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Lfc . 

book deals mostly with people 
people on the political left, and 
on the political right, who have 
made and are making news. 

Here, Russell Kirk says in his 
Introduction, "is social criticism 
worthy of survival in its own 
right." If the people about whom 
he writes hadn't made news, they 
made it the moment they at- 
tracted Mr. Buckley's bright at- 

Mr. Buckley, "the paladin of 
the American right," as Time 
has called him, and the author 
of God and Man at Yale and Up 
From Liberalism, is in rare 
form, whether ripping into law- 
yer Edward Bennett Williams, 
teasing Richard Rovere to come 
clean on the Establishment, ana- 
lyzing the non-think behind Pres- 
ident Eisenhower's invitation to 
Khrushchev, explaining his ad- 
miration for Barry Goldwater, 
.or telling the moving tale of 
Whittaker Chambers' last years. 

Here also are essays on Jack 
Paar, Murray Kempton, Ken- 

(Continued on back flap) 



WAI Jlft.1 1977 

MAY 3* %985 
JUL 81986 

MOV ,": 


973 E92r 6 

^kl<3v, William Frank, 3-9?--?- 

Babies left and right, a book 
about troublesome people aid ^ 
ideas. Introd. by RusseAl /ti^* 
K.Y., Putnam [1963 J 

Kansas city Ilil public library 

BOOKS will oe issued only 

on presentation of library card. 
Please report lost cards and 

change of residence promptly. 
Card holders are responsible for 

all books, records, films, picti 
or other library materials 
checked out on their cards. 


A Book About Troublesome People and Ide&s 

Left and Right 



Wm. F. Buckley,. Jr. 

Introduction by Russell Kirk 



1963 by Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. 

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, 
must not be reproduced in any form without 
permission, Published simultaneously in the 
Dominion of Canada by Longmans Canada Limited. 

Library of Congress Catalog 
Card Number: 63-9654 


To my mother, Al&ise Steiner Buckley, 
from her troublesome., 
but always devoted, son 

Some of the material in this book has appeared 
before in: Harpers, Coronet, National Review, 
The American Legion Magazine, The Saturday 
Review, Newsday, Ave Maria, Monocle, Esquire, 
Playboy, Motor Boating, and The Skipper. My thanks 
to them for permission to reprint. My thanks also to 
Mr. Tom Wallace, of Putnam's, for his encouragement, 
to Mrs. Gertrude E. Vogt for her superintending 
intelligence, and to Mr. Russell Kirk for the nice 
champagne. W.F.B. 

Stamford, Conn. 
January, 1963 





The Genteel Nightmare of Richard Rovere 21 

Barry Goldwater and the Thunder on the Right 31 

On the Visit by Khrushchev to the United States in 1959 42 

Tell Franco the War Is Over 49 

Will Formosa Liberate the United States? 53 
Herbert Matthews and Fidel Castro: i GOT MY JOB THROUGH 


Instructing 'Norman Mailer on the True Meaning of the 

American Right Wing 71 

Remarks on a Fifth Anniversary 85 


The Ordeal of Kenneth Tynan 93 

The Uneocamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams 101 

Can We Desegregate, Hesto Presto? 122 

A Reply to Robert Hutchins: The Aimlessness of American 

Education 128 

Catholic Liberals,, Catholic Conservatives, and the Require- 
ments of Unity 142 

An Evening with Jack Paar 153 



A Fortnight with Murray Kempton 170 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers 185 


The Threat to the Amateur Sailor 215 

What Did You Say? 237 

Letter from Japan 241 

Why Don't We Complain? 245 

by Russell Kirk 

A BORN debater, Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr. has made 
himself into a formidable knight-errant of twentieth-century 
politics and letters. This book, Rumbles Left and Right, 
though on the surface a collection of his occasional pieces, 
really amounts to more than a series of jousts with the men- 
at-arms of liberalism and radicalism. Through these essays 
runs a strong consistency: a concerted assault on the fallacies 
of a decadent age. 

The controversies with which Mr. Buckley deals may be 
forgotten a generation from now, if not sooner; some are 
dusty already, perhaps. Yet, as Mr. T. S. Eliot observes, there 
are no lost causes, because there are no gained causes. And 
the follies which Mr. Buckley scourges rise ghastly from 
their graves in every generation. The reader of this book, 
then, is to take these essays not as ephemera, but as political 
and social criticism worthy of survival in their own right. It 
is not inconceivable that, thirty years from now, Americans 
seeking to understand the curious moods of the 50's and 60's 
may find in Rumbles Left and Right a sturdy thread to lead 
them through the Minoan labyrinth of political and literary 
controversy in the times of Eisenhower and Kennedy. As 
Pope immortalized in The Dunciad a crew of poetasters who 
otherwise would have been snuffed out like tallow drips, so 
Buckley may preserve in the amber of his humorous invective 
a collection of insects that otherwise would have been con- 
signed to the trash burner of remorseless fate. Yet I doubt 


whether many of his adversaries will be sufficiently grateful 
for this solicitude of the curator. 

Some of these portraits, to be sure, are framed with deep 
affection, notably those of Whittaker Chambers and Barry 
Goldwater. The former probably is Mr, Buckley's best piece 
of writing; and it penetrates beneath the shallow passion 
of recent years to the springs of character and the disillusion 
of our century. Here Mr, Buckley does the rising generation 
an enduring service by his analysis marked with a strong 
pathos of a man courageous and wise enough to escape from 
the clutch of a consuming ideology, though so burnt by that 
self -emancipation that he could not live. In fiction, Mr. Lionel 
Trilling's character Maxim, in The Middle of the Journey, 
curiously anticipates the real Chambers. Mr. Buckley's ex- 
amination of that melancholy and symbolic author of Witness 
may do much to help the searchers of Anno Domini 1990 or 
2000 understand this age of ideology. 

Not long ago, Mr. Norman Thomas and I were fellow 
travelers on the way to an airport. In our company was an 
intelligent girl college student who never had heard of 
Whittaker Chambers or Alger Hiss; so Mr. Thomas and I 
had to describe for her the intricate web of circumstance, 
significant of so much in the tribulations of this age, which 
involved the Communist intriguer and his reluctant accuser. 
If such controversies already are obscure to the rising gen- 
eration, they will be incomprehensible a generation from 
now without the illumination of Mr. Buckley's moving words. 

Similarly, William Buckley thrusts through the bramble 
thickets of passing partisanship to take the measure of such 
journalists gentlemen of widely differing talents as Richard 
Rovere, Herbert Matthews, Kenneth Tynan, and Murray 
Kempton. These he does not love, except possibly Mr. 
Kempton; but he discerns in them, as in Edward Bennett 
Williams and in Robert Hutchins, manifestations of the mod- 
ern temper. For one so accustomed to exchange cut and 
thrust with these gentlemen, Mr. Buckley writes almost char- 


itably. Though theirs are the voices of Babel, Buckley does 
not charge them with having built the Tower: rather, he 
exhibits them to his increasing audience as specimens of be- 

Apropos of such specimens, one hopes that in future Mr. 
Buckley may tilt a lance at some of the greater and grimmer 
champions of neoterism-at Lord Bertrand Russell and Sir 
Charles Snow, for instance, whom he drubs only casually in 
these pages. Though Mr. Buckley is anything but a freak, 
his talent for showmanship has led him to repeated tests of 
strength in Nightmare Alley; and, somewhat ironically, prob- 
ably he is best known to the general American public through 
his television debates with such oddities as Gore Vidal and 
Norman Mailer. But Mr. Buckley's dissection of freakishness, 
as in the essay on Mailer, has a worth greater than the subject 
of its mordant wit quite as Whittaker Chambers' review of 
Atlas Shrugged, published in National Review, broke a but- 
terflyor, rather, broke a lunar moth on the wheel. The 
criticism of Buckley and Chambers will remain worth read- 
ing when the next wave of literary flotsam litters our beaches 
with little dying marine monsters and jellyfish. The chief 
value of polemical silliness is the wisdom of the reaction it 
sometimes provokes. No one nowadays knows Price's sermon 
on the Old Jewry, which irritated Edmund Burke into writing 
his Reflections on the Revolution in France. So it must be 
said in apology for the Mailers and Rands of this century that 
without them we should lose the civilized fun of the Buckleys. 

Much though he is detested by some gentlemen of the 
Academy, Mr. William Buckley is eminently a civilized man. 
Not much liking the education to which he was exposed at 
Yale and liking still less the higher learning at other uni- 
versities and colleges Buckley set out to scandalize these 
United States. He found that Christianity was indeed a 
scandal in his time as, indeed, it always has been and ought 
to be and that modern orthodoxy was enforced by the 
"Liberal Establishment." Upon his unrepentant head the 


outraged devotees of the Establishment heaped coals of 
fire and poured oil of vitriol. Yet Mr. Buckley was undis- 
mayed. In 1955 he f ounded the weekly review which now has 
become the most widely discussed and widely circulated 
journal of opinion in this country. Now he is a power in the 
land, chiefly through his talent for "scarifying." But in the 
rough and tumble of scores of literary combats and hundreds 
of sardonic speeches, he has not lost the urbanity of real 
culture; nor has he forgotten what Burke described as the 
roots of our civilization, the spirit of religion and the spirit 
of a gentleman. 

It seems to me, indeed, that Mr. Buckley has grown 
stronger and wiser during his hard years in the lists. Even 
though he assailed the ritualistic liberalism that had made its 
way into Yale, at first he bore himself certain marks of that 
nineteenth-century liberalism which Santayana labeled a 
mere transitory stage between the old polity and the coming 
collectivism. In his witty wrath at the corruption of tolerance, 
he assailed academic freedom (God and Man at Yale) 
which, properly understood, is more than a shibboleth, to my 
mind. In his justified contempt for the "little dogs and all, 
Blanche, Tray, and Sweetlips" who nipped at the ankles of 
Joseph McCarthy after that leader of demos had begun to slip 
from influence, Mr. Buckley became the most eloquent de- 
fender of a politician who, after all as Whittaker Chambers 
said "can't lead anybody because he can't think." And in 
flaying the puerilities of the Left, when he began to publish 
National Review, occasionally he mistook for useful auxilia- 
ries people who were quite as silly and doctrinaire in an- 
other direction as the latter-day liberals he disdained. 

But the reader will not find in Rumbles Left and Right 
these weaknesses. Taught consistency through adversity, 
Mr, Buckley objects as strongly as ever to the mentality of 
"no enemies to the Left"; yet his mordant objections are 
founded upon a good understanding of the first principles 
of order and justice and freedom. Far from being exacerbated 


by the immoderate denunciations of his enemies in the 
Academy and out o it, Buckley actually has grown more 
urbane, though not thick-skinned. The snarling enmity which 
he has encountered on such television shows as those of Mike 
Wallace, Jack Paar, and David Susskind has taught him the 
character of his opposition, without souring his temper. A 
vivacious female admirer who saw Mr. Buckley in his first 
clash with Mike Wallace remarked that though Buckley had 
much the better of the fight, he seemed like a man without a 
skin, cut and bruised by vicious epithet, and yet enduring 
every ferocity for the sake of a cause, and dealing back 
deadly thrusts that paralyzed even the hardened television 
ruffians who had expected to drag him down. 

Parenthetically, one may inquire why William Buckley 
suffers or even invites the unscrupulous and ignorant opera- 
tions of television's M.C/s, and condescends to debate with 
pseudo-literary denizens of Nightmare Alley unable to ap- 
prehend what he is talking about. The answer, I suppose, is 
that Mr. Buckley like the old Templars has sworn an oath 
never to refuse battle to less than three adversaries at once; 
and that he likes a hot fight, even with ignorant armies clash- 
ing by night; and that someone has to take up arms against 
even the surliest brute who abides by no rules of chivalry. In 
the mass age, Caliban has to be taken seriously and cudgeled 
from time to time, disagreeable though it is to contend with 
masterless men arid sturdy beggars. Like it or not, Mr. 
Buckley is compelled to play Brasidas, although a smiling 
and subtle Brasidas, to the Cleon of the Left. Unless people 
like William Buckley wage this fight before the mass audi- 
ence, Chaos and Old Night come mowing round Rockefeller 
Plaza and Lafayette Square. 

So what ties together the essays in this collection is Mr. 
Buckley's consistent determination to wage the good fight 
in defense of ordered freedom; in defense of the traditions 
of civility; in defense of life with purpose. The "troublesome 
people and ideas" that he assails, sword in hand and tongue 


in cheek, are most of them either willing or unconscious 
servants of Chaos and Old Night. Though most of his chap- 
ters touch upon politics, Buckley is no ideologue. As a con- 
servative, he knows that politics is not the most interesting 
thing in life, let alone the end of life. The purpose of life is 
to know God and enjoy Him forever not to march pot- 
valiantly toward the mirage of the Terrestrial Paradise. Like 
other thinking conservatives, Mr. Buckley turns to politics 
only defensively-to prevent the energumen or the well- 
intentioned zealot from giving us the Terrestrial Hell. As the 
reader will gather from "The Threat to the Amateur Sailor/' 
Buckley would prefer yachting to polemicizing.* Yet none 
of us will be free to sail yachts, or even row dinghies, unless 
we set our face against tie enemies of order and of leisure. 

Thus fanatic slogans, a la John Brown, about immediate 
integration have something to do with the passivity of most 
moderns before feckless or insolent waiters; thus the prob- 
lem of Catholics and ideology is joined, in some fashion, with 
the Formosan resistance to Communism. Our present dis- 
order is both external and internal. Most of our discontents 
are caused not so much by malice as by an eagerness to evade 
the pain of thinking. Mr. Buckley has gone to some pains to 
object; and he objects thoughtfully, unlike the quasi-pro- 
fessional decrier of "conformity" who himself conforms to 
cant and slogan. 

Life is an arena where we are tested for our fortitude and 
our faith. If this fight ever should cease, we literally would 
be bored to death. If William Buckley has struck some fierce 
strokes in this arena, his are no backhanded blows. He ob- 
jects to mediocrity for the sake of normality; he detests the 

* Though now and again I have my differences of opinion with Mr. 
Buckley, we sail in the same vessel: indeed, I once piloted his Panic in a 
most landlubherly fashion across Long Island Sound. For my part, I am 
a swamp navigator, rejoicing in the exploration of the haunts of coot and 
hern by leaky boat in my Mecosta County. Mr, BucHey can have the gull's 
way and the whale's way. But either we all bail together, or we all sink 


monster because he cherishes the true man. Like Tailfer 
riding out from the Norman host, tossing his sword and 
laughing, Buckley has challenged to single combat one after 
another the champions of the opposing array. Yet if he 
charges into the press at Hastings, I do not think he will go 
down under the weight of his adversaries. 

Inside Politics 


RICHABD ROVERE has written an elegant spoof on the 
theme of an American Establishment, from which he has 
recently got a lot of footage. Almost certainly he will get 
more still, since his hypothesis that there is what one might 
call an American Establishment is inherently fascinating, 
whether presented with mock solemnity (as Rovere did it in 
Esquire), or with considerable seriousness (as Rovere did it 
in The American Scholar). 

It is the leg-pull version that Rovere has slid into his latest 
book,* which otherwise contains a number of essays and 
studies, written for the most part for The New Yorker; and, 
at the moment, he finds it most convenient, or effective, or 
sophisticated, to say of the hypothesis that it is "pure non- 
sense" those were his words on the Mike Wallace television 
program a few weeks ago. On the same occasion he rejoiced 
at being able to relate that he had succeeded in completely 
taking in a literal-minded young Congressman, a member of 
the John Birch Society, who seized on Rovere's Esquire essay 
as the Inside Word on the Apparatus that runs America, and 
rushed to introduce the essay into the Congressional Record, 
confident that, at last, someone had turned the key in the 
door that all these years has kept hidden from sight the mys- 
teries of American political power. 

That was a silly thing the Congressman did, to get taken 
in by a piece which while maintaining that an Establish- 

* Richard H. Rovere, The American Establishment and Other Reports, 
Opinions, and Speculations, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962. 


ment pretty well governs America, every bit as seriously as 
Swift once maintained that the only solution to the dietary 
problem in Ireland lay in eating babies is full of rollicking 
giveaways, many of them instantly recognizable as imitations 
of the formulae of the sociologist of gamesmanship, Mr. 
Stephen Potter, "Hilary Masters, a leading member of the 
Dutchess County school of sociologists, defined [the Estab- 
lishment] in a recent lecture as the "legitimate Mafia' " Foot- 
note: "Before the Edgewater Institute, Barrytown, N. Y., 
July 4, 1961. Vide Proceedings, 1961, pp. 37-51. Also see 
Matters first-rate monograph Establishment Watering Places, 
Shekomeko Press, 1957." Again, "American students [of the 
Establishment] number few trained historians" Footnote: 
"Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has done fairly decent work in the 
past (vide The General and the President, with Richard H. 
Rovere) but his judgments are suspect because of his own 
connections with the Establishment'' 

The yaks aside, Rovere is clearly up to something (though 
he will deny it) more serious than catching up gullible Con- 
gressmen for the delectation of the Esquire set. If the piece 
was intended as sheer fantasy, it is the first venture in that 
precarious form that Mr. Rovere has ever taken, so far as I, 
one of his dutiful readers, am aware. The fact of the matter 
is that Mr. Rovere's disavowals notwithstanding, there is a 
thing which, properly understood, might well be called an 
American Establishment; and the success of Mr. Rovere's 
essay wholly depends on a sort of nervous apprehension of 
the correctness of the essential insight. Moreover, appealing 
now from Richard drunk (Esquire) to Richard sober (Amer- 
ican Scholar),, the author gives every indication of knowing 
that the idea of an Establishment is not sheer nonsense. 

So our Establishment is different from the British Estab- 
lishment, a designation which Macaulay and Carlyle, stretch- 
ing the original and merely religious meaning of the term, 
attached to the dominant men and institutions of England 
the established order. So what? The English Establishment 

The Genteel Nightmare of Richard Rovere [23 

is more frozen than our own, primarily because theirs is a 
society based on class. Their Establishment has rites and 
honoriflcs and primogenitive continuities, and rests on deeply 
embedded institutional commitments against which the So- 
cialists, the angry young men, the disestablishmentarians, 
have railed and howled and wept altogether in vain. 

The "Establishment" Mr. Rovere is talking, or not talking, 
about is precariously perched; and every now and then it 
gets a terrific shellacking from its opponents. In the English 
Establishment, membership is to a considerable extent ex 
officio (even non-U dukes belong); in ours, far less so (though 
it is inconceivable, at least to this observer, that the head of 
the Ford Foundation could be an outsider). The chances are 
better that you might earn a berth in the American Establish- 
ment if you have gone to Groton and Yale; but no one has an 
automatic right to membership in it, not even the President 
of the United States (as Rovere, even in his flippant mood, 
admits). And membership in it is to an extent far greater than 
in England dependent on a man's opinions (and the way they 
are expressed); England, by contrast, has no trouble at all in 
countenancing Socialist earls. 

It tends to be true in England that the Establishment pre- 
vails. It is less true in the United States: for the Establishment 
here is not so much of the governing class, as of the class that 
governs the governors. The English Establishment mediates 
the popular political will through perdurable English institu- 
tions. The American Establishment seeks to set the bounds of 
permissible opinion. And on this, it speaks ex cathedra. It 
would not hesitate to decertify Mr. Rovere. But he gives no 
indication of waywardness. 

Mr. Rovere's technique in the essay is to make a general- 
ity about the Establishment and quickly undermine it by a 
ludicrous particularization. 

"The Establishment has always favored foreign aid." 
Quite true. "It is, in fact, a matter on which Establishment 
discipline may be invoked" The reader is supposed to sigh 


with relief obviously there are no disciplinary commissions 
lying around, visible or invisible, set up to weigh complaints 
of dogmatic infidelity, and issue bulls of excommunication. 
Does it not follow from this buffoonery that what went before 
is also nonsense? That the Establishment does not in fact 
always favor foreign aid? Does it not follow, even, that the 
very idea of an Establishment is a hoax? 

"Within the next couple of years . . . Congress will spend 
a good part of its time fighting the Establishment program 
for a great revision of American trade practices and for 
eventual American association with the "European Common 
Market" Quite so. But then quickly: "This whole scheme 
was cooked up at a three-day meeting of the Executive Com- 
mittee [of the Establishment] at the Sheraton Park in Wash- 
ington immediately after President Kennedy's inauguration 
on January 20, 1961." 

* Again: *7/ it were not for the occasional formation of 
public committees such as the Citizens Committee for Inter- 
national Development scholars would have a difficult time 
learning who the key figures are!' Hmm. Then the payoff: 
"A working principle agreed upon by Establishment scholars 
is this. If in the course of a year a mans name turns up four- 
teen times in paid advertisements in, or collective letters to, 
the New York Times, the official Establishment daily, it is 
about fourteen to one that he is a member of the Executive 
Committee. (I refer, of course, to advertisements and letters 
pleading Establishment causes.} 99 

But then on other statements about the Establishment, 
Rovere does not bother to frolic; he is simply asseverative: 

"The accepted range [of Establishment opinion] is from 
about as far left as, say, Walter Reuther to about as far right 
as, say, Dwight Eisenhower. A man cannot be for less wel- 
farism than Eisenhower., and to be farther left than Reuther 
is considered bad taste!' (A significant disjunction: Erich 
Fromm is merely bad taste; Ludwig von Mises is intoler- 

The Genteel Nightmare of Richard Rovere [25 

"Racial equality is another matter on which the Establish- 
ment forbids dissent" 

"In matters of public policy, it may be said tJiat those prin- 
ciples and policies that have the editorial support of The 
New York Times are at the core of Establishment doctrine" 

And so on. It is at best difficult to undermine a truism. 
Rovere's sense of style prevents him from taking them all 
on. The result is that most of his readers walk away from his 
piece not like the Congressman, grimly tracking down every 
jeu de mots for Social Truth, but aware that Rovere has, in 
spite of himself, limned the outlines of a great force in 
American affairs, which is slowly acquiring self-conscious- 

Why should the concept of an American Establishment, 
first introduced into American journalism, according to 
Rovere, by National Review, be so fascinating to so many 
people? The answer is complicated. It has to do, first, with 
the difference in attitude, in England and here, toward a 
national Establishment. In England, most influential people 
like to feel they are in the Establishment. Here, especially 
among intellectuals, the desire is to be thought of as too 
independent a spirit to be a part of any movement which is 
powerful and institutionalized, let alone one of which it 
might be said that it is also an apparatus. 

Thus, when Rovere writes that his buddy Arthur Schles- 
inger, Jr. "has connections with the Establishment" it be- 
comes dismally complicated to sort out everything Rovere 
is trying to communicate. At least this much he seems to be 
trying to say: 1) There is no Establishment, so anything I 
say about Arthur's connection with it is playful, and not to 
be taken seriously. However, 2) what I say must have at 
least a superficial plausibility, if I am to bring off this spoof; 
and it is of course true that Arthur is very well connected 
with very powerful people; for instance, at the national level, 
the President of the United States; at the professional level, 


Harvard University; at the level of highbrow journalism, 
myself. And I, er, know the President pretty well, who, of 
course, is an overseer of Harvard, where he has known 
Arthur for years, and of course Arthur wrote a lot of his 
speeches for him and a book, Kennedy or Nixon; Does It 
Make Any Difference?, which may have swung as many 
votes as the margin Kennedy won by, who knows? And then, 
Arthur and I wrote a book togetheryes, it is plausible to 
suggest that Arthur has connections with something that 
might be called the Establishment. But remember! there 
is no such thing. 

Another difference: in England, the Establishment is con- 
ceded to concern itself with what is clearly the national 
consensus. In America, by contrast, there is a deep division 
between the views of the putative Establishment and those 
whose interests it seeks to forward. For in this country there 
are two consensuses, that of the people (broadly speaking) 
and that of the intellectuals (narrowly speaking). These dif- 
ferences the Establishment is not eager to stress. Having 
prescribed what is permissible opinion, it is reassuring to 
hold that those who drink deep in impermissible opinions are 
a) a minority; and b) an ignorant minority, at that. 

The tension between the two consensuses persists, as Mr. 
Rovere acknowledges in indicating which are the great 
bases of the Establishment's strength. For thirty years now, 
the Establishment has pretty well succeeded in dominating 
the Executive and the Judiciary but not the Congress 
(which is still capable of passing a McCarran Internal Secu- 
rity Bill, trimming drastically a foreign aid bill, and filibuster- 
ing to death a civil rights bill). As Mr. Rovere is careful to 
say, the Establishment has accumulated the power not to 
put one of its own "agents" (to go along with the terminol- 
ogy of the apparatus) in any sensitive spot it wishes, but to 
see to it that a real outsider does not get in. Thus Willkie, 
then Dewey, then Eisenhower, two insiders and one fellow 
traveler of the Establishment, took the nomination away from 

The Genteel Nightmare of Richard Rovere [2,7 

the outsider Taft major operations for an anxious Estab- 
lishment. Nixon came along and posed a clear threat; the 
Establishment huffed and puffed (did you ever see Walter 
Lippmann so highly mobilized? ) and narrowly squeaked by. 
In short, the whole thing is easier to conceive if one bears in 
mind that the Establishment in question is not altogether 
establishmentarianized. That is why those who started using 
the term Frank Meyer, Willmoore Kendall, James Burnham, 
William Henry Chamberlin usually speak of the "Liberal 

Professor Willmoore Kendall, a well-known enemy of the 
Establishment, several years ago reviewed Professor Samuel 
Stouffer's book, Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liber- 
ties. "The title of the book," Kendall began, "should have 
been Sam Stoufer Discovers America 3 ' for here were Pro- 
fessor Stouffer's anguished statistical revelations that the 
overwhelming majority of the American people do not 
believe that civil liberties should be enjoyed by Communists, 
or that atheists should teach in the public schools! Obviously 
that is what the body of Americans believes, Kendall ob- 
served; and it is an indication of the otherworldliness of Es- 
tablishment scholarship that statistical verification of a fact 
as plain as Jimmy Durante's nose should come as such a 

What is all the more galling is that the people have their 
own scholars; precious few of them, to be sure. But is this 
because the people's point of view is, sub specie aeternitatis 
(an anti-Establishment concept), indefensible? Not alto- 
gether. There are other reasons, Kendall and others have been 
suggesting, and these other reasons have been coming for- 
ward armed with imposing credentials. Anti-Establishment 
scholars are not given true equality , a true opportunity to set 
up their stands, unencumbered by the censors of the Estab- 
lishment, in the academic market place. The Establishment 
loves dissent as a theoretical proposition. In practice, it is 
not easy to get a hearing, in high circles of the Establishment, 


for heretical doctrine. In our time, the Willmoore Kendalls, 
not the Robert Oppenheimers, are the Galileos. 

Come now, let us acknowledge that it is as difficult for a 
camel to pass through a needle's eye as for a true dissenter 
to receive a favorable review of an anti-Establishment book 
in The New York Times Book Review section. I say "as diffi- 
cult," in order to acknowledge that such a thing does occa- 
sionally happen. But not often. 

Here, then, is what Rovere is really getting at. He knows 
there is a body of political and social thought which prevails 
in the centers of American intellectual and polemical power. 
What he resists so fiercely, for reasons he has not thought 
through, is the insinuation a) that what one might call the 
Liberal Establishment holds to a definable orthodoxy (his 
going on to adumbrate that orthodoxy was sheer brinkman- 
ship); and b) that the keepers of that orthodoxy resort to 
conventional means to maintain it, even to means which, 
officially, its theorists disdain. Especially, he shudders at the 
use of the word "conspiracy." He has a hard enough time 
acknowledging that the Communists are, from time to time, 
successful conspirators. It is more than he can bear that it is 
sometimes suggested that the Liberal Establishment engages 
in conspiratorial practices. 

Elsewhere in this book, Rovere rails explicitly against the 
"conspiracy view of history." Mr. Rovere is fond of laying 
down fine distinctions, but in this regard he is an absolutist 
conspiracies, to judge from his writings, don't exist; or if they 
do, they never accomplish anything. So absolute is his com- 
mitment to nonconspiracy that he wrote an entire volume 
about Senator McCarthy without mentioning a) the con- 
spiracy whose target was the Institute of Pacific Relations; 
or b) the curious affair (involving a number of his friends) 
whose focal point was the anti-McCarthy "independent in- 
vestigator," Paul Hughes. 

What, after all, does it mean, to conspire? Usually some- 
thing less, as Father John Courtney Murray has reminded 

The Genteel Nightmare of Richard Rovere [29 

Sidney Hook, than to meet your partner under the bridge 
with complementary parts of a bomb. "To plot, devise, con- 
trive/' "to combine in action or aims: to concur, cooperate as 
by intention," says the dictionary. That land of thing goes on 
all the time. In the White House, for instance. Within the 
Department of Government at Harvard, for instance. The 
question whether there is an Establishment some of whose 
members conspire together raises merely the question 
whether there is, or has been, coordination of purpose be- 
tween people who administer in the White House, teach at 
Harvard, write in The New Yorker, and preach at St. John 
the Divine. Of course there is coordination, however infor- 
mal, and it is as naive to believe there is not as it is naive to 
support that only conspiratorial action is responsible for 
historical events. 

The word conspiracy, at another level, has a highly pejora- 
tive meaning, spelled out in the definition (Oxford's): "To 
combine ... to do something criminal, illegal, or reprehen- 
sible." It is not necessarily reprehensible for Bishop Pike and 
Bishop Sherrill to agree to denounce the Radical Bight dur- 
ing the next fortnight why shouldn't they? (What would 
God think if they didrit?) It is reprehensible for Joseph L. 
Rauh, Jr. (ADA) and Al Friendly (Washington Post) and 
Clayton Fritchey (Democratic Digest) to have conspired 
with Paul Hughes, a secret informer, in an attempt to pene- 
trate a congressional committee. Surely it is reprehensible if 
professors within a department of economics or government 
conspire against the promotion of a scholar because his views 
are different from their own (assuming the professors an- 
nounce themselves as advocates of academic freedom). 

Granted, then, that a sane man might seek to designate 
whatever figurative edifice shelters the household gods of 
American Liberalism, its high priests, its incense makers, and 
its catechetical pressis "Establishment" a good word for it? 
I think tibe term is useful, if one is careful to remember that it is 
a figure of speech, even as it has been understood to be in 


England for over a hundred years. It is preposterous to take 
seriously (as the Congressman evidently did) Mr. Rovere's 
statement that "Spruille Braden . . . was read out of the Estab- 
lishment on April 14, 1960." It is by no means preposterous to 
recognize that while Braden was once a member of the 
Establishment, now he no longer is, though the alienation 
was attended by no formal rites of excommunication, and 
took place over a considerable period of time. You need not 
be taken in by the solemn whisper that the Establishment 
has a president, an executive committee, a constitution, by- 
laws, and formal membership requirements, to believe that 
there do exist people of varying prestige and power within 
American Liberaldom; that we speak here of the intellectual 
plutocrats of the nation, who have at their disposal vast cul- 
tural and financial resources; and that it is possible at any 
given moment to plot with fair accuracy the vectors of the 
Establishment's position on everything from birth control 
to Moise Tshombe. That is what the excitement is about. 

Mr. Rovere writes, as always, with precision and wit. In 
this volume he turns his attention to any number of things, 
about some of which he feels strongly, about some of which 
he does not seem to feel at all. In this particular book, he is 
clearly vexed only by Douglas MacArthur, and by certain 
things (about the Establishment) Peter Viereck has written; 
and by the personal shortcomings of Harold Ickes no, come 
to think of it, he isn't really vexed by them at all. Mr. Rovere 
is fun to read, easy to read, interesting to read. But he needs 
to watch out. The New 'Yorker encourages good literary 
needlework; but Rovere has always fancied himself Thornme 
engage. There are those who wish he would discover otlier 
evils than Joe McCarthy, Address your complaints to the 
Assignment Editor, the American Establishment, care of 
your local post office. 


IF THE American people really wanted a New Frontier, 
they could always turn for leadership to Barry Morris Gold- 
water, junior Senator from Arizona, and one of the few gen- 
uine radicals in American public life. A radical conservative a 
man who, if he were President, would change the face of the 
nation: in that sense he's a "radical." He would reorient 
America back in the direction of a) minimum government, 
and b) maximum personal responsibility: in that sense he's a 

Agriculture? "The government of the United States has no 
business taking money from one group of people to give it to 
another." The government, in other words, should get out of 

Labor unions? Tve never understood why if monopolies 
are bad when they are exercised by businessmen, why they 
arent also bad when they are exercised by labor union lead- 
ers." An end, in a word, to industry-wide bargaining and 
the union shop. 

The Negro problem? "I believe justice and morality re- 
quire that persons of different races attend the same schools. 
But Tm not going to impose my ideas of morality and justice 
on other people. The Constitution of the United States gave 
me no warrant to tell South Carolinians how to run their 
schools. 9 ' So put a stop to federal efforts to impose integra- 
tionif necessary, by a constitutional amendment. 

And so it goes. Every one of Senator Goldwater's domestic 
proposals derives from two central beliefs. The first is that 



the Constitution of the United States enumerates the powers 
of Congress and explicitly denies Congress the right to do 
the kind of thing that has been going under the name of the 
New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the New Frontier. Second, 
human freedom is best served by keeping the government 

That land of drastic conservatism is not easy to find these 
days. Even so, Senator Goldwater firmly believes that the 
United States is a profoundly conservative country, if only 
the people had a chance to get a taste of the real thing, and 
realized more fully where they are headed under statism. 
But if it should turn out that he is wrong, that Americans 
reject Goldwater's brand of individualism, it is unlikely it 
would make the least difference to him: he'd go on believing 
what he now believes, a set of principles rooted he has pub- 
licly maintained in the very nature of man. Beliefs of that 
intensity are not changed by Gallup polls. Sometimes they 
even make friends. "I like Goldwater, as a man and as a 
politician," William S. White of Harpers wrote recently. "I 
wholly disagree with most of his views. But I own to a bias 
for a man so full of principle." 

It's astonishing that a man holding to such rigidly con- 
servative views should be so strikingly successful in politics 
almost thirty years after Franklin Roosevelt came, saw, and 
conquered. Goldwater's emergence has a lot to do, of course, 
with organic political and social developments in America. 
Many people are disillusioned with the kind of world we 
live in, and seek other solutions than those that have been 
advanced by the Liberals during the years of our decline. 
But Goldwater's rise is to a considerable extent the result of 
Goldwater. Very few people escape from exposure to him 
completely unscathed. You can find diehard left-wingers who 
will tell you Goldwater has no personal attraction whatever, 
just as you could find diehard right-wingers who would say 
the same thing about Franklin Roosevelt: both are fooling 
themselves. Goldwater, like Roosevelt, has a first-class polit- 

Barry Goldwater and the Thunder on the Right [33 

ical personality. And again like Roosevelt, Goldwater is ac- 
cepted as a partisan of a political position. So that in backing 
him, his followers can fuse personal and ideological passions. 

That is what accounts for Goldwater's success, notwith- 
standing a political position that can hardly be considered 
to be in vogue. It is generally suggested that Senator Gold- 
water is so conservative he's just out of this world. Senator 
Humphrey twitted him at a cocktail party recently. "You're 
one of the handsomest men in America/' Humphrey said. 
"You ought to be in the movies. In fact, I've made just that 
proposal to 18th Century Fox/' Goldwater's enemies, to be 
sure, are legion; but they are not yet mortally engaged 
against him, nor even, for the most part, waspish in their 
references to him. (That isn't true of Walter Reuther and his 
circle, to be sure. Goldwater got fired up one day and called 
Reuther more dangerous than the Communists, whereupon 
Reuther replied that Goldwater should be taken away in a 
white suit, and the colorful vendetta goes on. ) And that isn't 
because Goldwater is not powerful, and therefore can be in- 
dulged as one would, say, a vegetarian. Goldwater is among 
the three most important Republicans in the GOP. When at 
the Republican Convention in 1960 he and Rockefeller and 
Nixon stood before the cameras, arm in arm, the idea was that 
all the forces in the Republican Party were present and ac- 
counted for: Left, Center, and Right. The camera had never 
been off Goldwater during the hectic few days before the 
Convention, beginning the day Nixon traveled to see Rocke- 
feller in New York, there to consummate what Goldwater 
publicly denounced as a "Munich Conference/' and ending 
with the exhortation by Goldwater to his fellow conservatives 
to fight hard for a Nixon victory. 

Here was a remarkably versatile man, who on Sunday 
could denounce Nixon as an appeaser on the scale of Neville 
Chamberlain, and on Wednesday, in the interest of party 
unity, embrace him and the man to whom Nixon had al- 
legedly betrayed the Republican Party. There was a flurry 


of resentment, a sense of disappointment here and there 
among his followers. "I got quite a lot of nasty mail/' Gold- 
water commented, "some of it calling me yellow, and other 
worse things no, nothing worse. There isn't anything worse/' 
But Goldwater gained, rather than lost, prestige. He had 
proved he is what most truly successful American politicians 
have to be: an Insider. He had made his criticisms of Nixon, 
of Rockefeller, of "Progressive Republicanism," in language 
absolutely remarkable for its candor: but now it was time to 
strike camp and move on. And Goldwater is, and always will 
be, a member of the Republican team. Here is a key to his 
durabilityan organizational fidelity that Joe McCarthy re- 
nounced when, after the vote of censure, he apologized to 
the American people for having urged them to vote for 
Eisenhower. It was the end of McCarthy. 

He is a man so attractive, so plausible, so energetic, as to 
cause the kingmakers to deplore his single and obtrusive dis- 
qualification, his "ultraconservatism" a designation, by the 
way, that Goldwater deeply resents, because of its emotive 
overhead. ("Why don't they call Humphrey, Stevenson, Wil- 
liams and that gang 'ultraliberals'?" ) The feeling in these 
quarters is that Goldwater represents a remarkable conjunc- 
tion of politically negotiable assets "if only he would drop 
the antisocial security crap," as one old pro put it. Barry 
Goldwater is: amiable, good-looking, fluent, earnest, a vet- 
eran, an active jet pilot, one part Jewish, a practicing Chris- 
tian, head of a handsome family, a successful businessman, a 
best-selling author, a syndicated columnist, and a tough cam- 
paigner who won a smashing victory in 1958 when he was 
re-elected Senator in a solidly Democratic state, against the 
bitter opposition of organized labor. "He could go very, very 
far," the old pro mused, his face as sad as though he were 
looking at an uncontrolled oil gusher, spouting its yellow 
gold wantonly onto the ground. 

Others point out that Goldwater has come very far, and 

Barry Goldwater and the Thunder on the Right [35 

quite possibly wouldn't have except for the ardent support 
of American conservatives. One can argue whether his stout 
conservatism has helped or hurt him thus far. The big ques- 
tion is whether the Senator might, but for his adamant con- 
servatism, successfully contend for the presidential nomina- 
tion in 1964. 

How did he get that way? He is the son of an Episco- 
palian mother and a Jewish father, who brought him up in 
Arizona, where his grandparents had settled and founded 
a little trading store which soon grew into a prosperous 
chain. When he was a freshman at college his father died, 
and Barry decided to quit school and tend the store while 
his brothers continued their education. The three of them 
worked hard, and the business flourished. The employees of 
Goldwater's, incidentally, have never been able to under- 
stand the bitter opposition to Senator Barry from organized 
labor. They earn more than their competitors, and yet they 
work a 37-hour week, and enjoy fringe benefits ranging from 
an employees 7 swimming pool to a retirement fund. 

"Flying in a jet airplane from California to Arizona as I 
often do," Goldwater remarks, "I often marvel at the ordeal 
my grandfather and his brother went through in making that 
trek over plain and desert those really were new frontiers, 
not made in Madison Avenue. They went without sufficient 
food or water, and with Indians harassing them all the way. 
But they did it, and their whole generation did it, and that's 
the kind of spirit that created America. That was a spiritual 
energy that came out of the loins of the people. It didn't 
come out of Washington. And it never will. Washington's 
principal responsibility is to get out of the way of the crea- 
tive impulses of the people." It's one thing to intone general- 
ities about human freedom and the American Constitution 
every politician does that as a matter of course ("Ask not 
what the government can do for you," declaimed President 
Kennedy, a couple of days before suggesting about thirty- 


seven new things the government could do for me . . .). But 
Goldwater means it. If he had his way, the farmer's checks 
would stop coming in, the labor union leader would face a 
law telling him he couldn't strike an entire industry, the 
businessman wouldn't get his cozy little tariff, the apartment 
dweller wouldn't have his rent frozen, the unemployed 
wouldn't get a federal check, nor the teacher federal money, 
nor the Little Rock Negroes their paratroops. It's all very 
well to venerate the Constitution and individual freedom 
where the other fellow is concerned, but Barry Goldwater 
is for it all the way. 

What would Goldwater do if he were President today? 
The ideal candidate for public office, he wrote in his best- 
selling book, The Conscience of a Conservative, would speak 
to the people as follows: "I have little interest in streamlining 
government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to 
reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I 
propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but 
to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to 
cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that 
have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people 
an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to dis- 
cover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first de- 
termined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I 
should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'in- 
terests,' I shall reply that I was informed their main interest 
is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I 

That is a staggering statement, the likes of which have not 
been heard from any President since Grover Cleveland. 

What, specifically, would Barry Goldwater have the gov- 
ernment do? Here are his most "ultra" domestic proposals. 
He would: 1) Get the government out of agriculture and 
welfare altogether. 2) Apply antimonopoly legislation 
against the big labor unions. 3) Abolish the progressive in- 
come tax. In foreign affairs, he would: 1) Eliminate foreign 

Barry Goldwater and the Thunder on the Right [37 

aid except to nations actively prepared to assist in the anti- 
Communist enterprise. 2) Eliminate economic and cultural 
exchange programs, which he views as counterfeit consider- 
ing the actual relationship between the Soviet Union and the 
United States. 3) Continue nuclear testing. And 4) "be pre- 
pared to undertake military programs against vulnerable 
Communist regimes" in the cause of pressing for victory 
over the Soviet Union. For instance, a Monroe Doctrine for 
Africa, imposed by the NATO powers. A striking force of 
anti-Communist Asiatics that would help the pro- Western 
government in Laos, the rebels in Indonesia. 

Such a program is completely at odds with the programs 
adopted in 1960, by both the Democratic and the Republican 
parties. Both these programs called for soft living at home, 
and send the bill to Washington; and abroad, more of the 
same endless negotiations with the Soviet Union, based on 
the assumption that we can soften Communism by a massive 
parliamentary offensive, plus foreign aid for everybody. Does 
it follow that Goldwater's program can never guide the coun- 
try? Goldwater is anything but hopeless. He once reminded 
a student that the difference between his program and the 
official program of the Republican Party is not nearly so 
great as the difference between the official Democratic pro- 
gram of 1932 (in which Roosevelt promised to cut down 
federal spending!) and the program of the New Deal (in 
which spending was elevated to a Sacred National Duty). 
Yet the New Deal, when it came up for ratification in 1936, 
was solidly endorsed. Roosevelt spent, and the people 

But Goldwater, if ever he were to run for President, would 
not dissemble, as Roosevelt did. He seems to be tempera- 
mentally incapable of doing so. The columnist Holmes Alex- 
ander wrote about him recently, "He must be the frankest 
political speaker who has ever gone the rounds, because his 
practice is not to dissemble at all, for any reason whatever, 
A year or so ago he made one of his typical speeches at the 


National Press Club and left his critics gaping with astonish- 
ment. He admitted his own mistakes. He laughed at himself, 
and kidded his party. He refused to vilify Walter Reuther, 
although disapproving of the labor leader's 'power complex/ 
Goldwater even told how he'd publicly sought the endorse- 
ment of a Communist-tainted union, because he knew the 
membership to be composed of loyal Americans. Was there 
ever such a politician as this?" 

Not in recent years, certainly. And yet Goldwater is noth- 
ing more than a political curio if his political program is 
trivial, insubstantial, merely eccentric. 

And this is the point at which the blows are exchanged 
between Liberals and conservatives. Goldwater's admirers 
believe that a hard dose of Goldwater could revive this coun- 
try as very little else could. It is Goldwater's program, of all 
those extant, that most faithfully reflects the political philos- 
ophy of the men who forged this country, and hammered 
out its Constitution. On this point there simply isn't any 
doubt. Our Constitution was drafted by men who thought 
the federal government should have enough power to main- 
tain order, but no more. Thomas Jefferson thought that gov- 
ernment best which governed least; and once he commented 
that any program of federal aid to education should be intro- 
duced as an amendment to the Constitution, since control 
over education was not among the specified powers granted 
to the federal government by the Constitution. 

The question is whether the insights of men like Hamilton 
and Jefferson and Madison and Marshall hold good for today. 
Goldwater thinks they do, that they have not been, essen- 
tially, invalidated: that government, unless it is kept in hand, 
grows tyrannical; that the diffusion of governmental power, 
among the respective states, is the key to the maintenance of 
individual liberty. 

For instance, Goldwater disapproves of segregated school- 
ing. But he can find no warrant in the Constitution for giving 
to the federal government any say whatever on matters of 

Barry Goldwater and the Thunder on the Right [39 

education. Hence he believes it is for the individual state to 
decide for itself what will be its educational practices. 

Social security is best effected, he believes, by maximizing 
the national wealth. In America, as in all free market econ- 
omies, the only (lawful) way for one man to acquire wealth 
is by contributing to the wealth of other men. That is why in 
America it has never been the case that the rich got richer 
while the poor got poorer. Throughout our history, the well- 
being of the lower class has (in defiance of the laws of Marx) 
increased. If, to look after the very few who for whatever 
reason cannot survive in a free market economy, we must 
have social security programs, then let the individual states 
handle them, with reference to local resources, and local 
needs. If an individual state chooses not to have a social secu- 
rity law, leaving charity for the local communities to exer- 
cise, why that is for the majority of the citizens of that state 
to decide, just as it is the privilege of New York State to levy 
an income tax, and the privilege of Connecticut not to levy 
such a tax. "And who will say," Goldwater asks, "that the 
government of New York is iDetter,' or 'more humane/ or 
'more progressive/ than Connecticut's?" 

"The genius of the federal system," Goldwater has said, 
"is that it allows the individual state to experiment. If the 
state makes an unwise move, the contrast with surrounding 
states is enough to bring quick reform. But when the decision 
is made by the federal government, binding on all fifty 
states, the mistake is totalized: and you lose the means by 
which to make your comparisons." 

In foreign policy, the Goldwater program is fashioned out 
of hard steel, and is not distinctively Republican. In fact it 
happens to be almost identical with the policy of Senator 
Thomas Dodd, a Democrat who votes on the other side of 
Goldwater on most domestic issues. Even so, it consistently 
reflects Goldwater's concern for freedom not only here, but 
abroad. Goldwater's enthusiasm for liberating the slaves of 
Communism relates historically to the nineteenth-century 


abolitionist fervor to liberate the slaves. Goldwater's prem- 
ises are: 1) Soviet Communism intends to colonize the entire 
world, if necessary by force of arms. 2) The United States 
will never surrender. 3) The best means of opposing Com- 
munism is also the best means of effecting peace: we must 
fight, fight hard, at every front, with courage to oppose 
Soviet advances by the threat of the use of force. 

Again, that is, at first glance, not very different from the 
Truman-Eisenhower-Kennedy program. But the similarities 
are, again, mostly rhetorical. Goldwater would have fol- 
lowed MacArthur's recommendations to bomb north of the 
Yalu; he would right now be testing nuclear bombs, to per- 
fect our arms flexibility; he would not have traveled to the 
summit, neither to Geneva in 1953, nor to Camp David in 
1959, nor to Paris in 1960; nor be sending aid to Sukarno, 
Tito, and Gomulka; nor have permitted the UN army to 
protect Gizenga's pro-Communist regime in the Congo. 
"Goldwater will end up in a pine box" Moscow's Pravda 
thundered in a lead editorial last year, commenting on Gold- 
water's book, The Conscience of a Conservative. "If Com- 
munism took over the world," Goldwater commented, "that's 
just where I'd want to be/' 

What will come of this phenomenon? The chances are 
very much against Goldwater's nomination for the presi- 
dencyunless President Kennedy, by pursuing a hard-left 
policy at home, and apeasement abroad, should bring the 
nation to catastrophe. If there is runaway inflation, if Com- 
munism marches into Latin America on a frightening scale, 
if our alliances begin to crumble, the people may turn to a 
man who offers a genuine alternative. The tough and persua- 
sive voice of Barry Goldwater would sound loud and clear. 

But if Kennedy's course is moderate, as probably it will 
be, Goldwater will surely be passed up by the Republican 
convention, in favor of a moderate, or even a left-moderate: 
a Nixon, a Rockefeller. Still, he will continue to exercise an 

Barry Goldwater and the Thunder on the Right [41 

important influence, as already he has done. Every measure 
that comes up before Congress, every proposal advanced in 
a party caucus, every executive order issued from the White 
House, he will assess according to traditional constitutional 
principles, and the realities of our war against the Soviet 
Union. And his enormous appeal, throughout the country, 
will give weight to that assessment. He is a hero not merely 
to the members and followers of the National Association of 
Manufacturers, but to all the Right-minded youth of the 
nation, for whom he seems to embody the Politician Un- 
chained from the dreary, federalized, temporizing, circum- 
locutory, bureaucratized politics of the Welfare State, the 
way station on the road to 1984. And on the other hand, it isn't 
just youthful enthusiasts who like Goldwater it is just about 
every American conservative. "In the stomping, roaring ova- 
tion that followed [Goldwater's] speech," Time magazine 
recently commented, "it was clear that conservatives of all 
ages had found their most persuasive voice since Robert 
Alphonso Taft." 

Senator Goldwater will, then, in the months to come, act 
as a potent inhibiting influence on government; and on the 
side, as a political educator. When that political re-education 
is complete perhaps during Goldwater's lifetime a man 
such as he, with a program such as his, could lead the coun- 
try. On that day the faculty of Harvard University, asso- 
ciated in the public mind as the GHQ of American Liberal- 
ism, would undoubtedly dive for their bomb shelters, and 
classify themselves a Depressed Area. But it would be up to 
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts not the federal gov- 
ernmentto look after them. 


THE damage Khrushchev can do to the United States 
on this trip is not comparable to the damage we have done 
to ourselves. Khrushchev is here. And his being here pro- 
fanes the nation. But the harm we have done, we have done 
to ourselves; and for that we cannot hold Khrushchev re- 
sponsible. There is nothing he is in a position to do, as he 
passes through our land, that can aggravate the national dis- 
honor. We can only dishoiior ourselves. Mr. Eisenhower in- 
vited him to come. But that was a transient damage that 
might have been laid to the vagaries of personal diplomacy. 
The lasting damage is related to the national acquiescence in 
Mr. Eisenhower's aberration. That acquiescence required the 
lapse of our critical and moral faculties. And for so long as 
they are in suspension, regeneration is not possible. 

I deplore the fact that Khrushchev travels about this coun- 
tryhaving been met at the frontier by our own prince, who 
arrived with his first string of dancing girls, and a majestic 
caravan of jewels and honey and spices; I mind that he will 
wend his lordly way from city to city, where the Lilliputians 
will fuss over his needs, weave garlands through the ring in 
his nose, shiver when he belches out his threats, and labor 
in panic to sate his imperial appetites. I mind that Khrush- 
chev is here; but I mind more that Eisenhower invited him. 
I mind that Eisenhower invited him, but I mind much more 
the defense of that invitation by the thought leaders of the 
nation. Khrushchev cannot by his presence here permanently 

* An address, delivered at Carnegie Hall. 


On the Visit of Khrushchev [43 

damage us, I repeat; and neither can Mr. Eisenhower by 
inviting him. But we are gravely damaged if it is true that in 
welcoming Khrushchev, Eisenhower speaks for America; for 
in that case the people have lost their reason; and we cannot 
hope to live down the experience until we have recovered 
our reason, and regained our moral equilibrium. 

I mind, in a word, the so-called "reasons" that have been 
advanced and accepted as to why Mr. Eisenhower issued 
the invitation. I mind first that "reasons" are being put for- 
ward, but mostly that they are being accepted. Khrushchev's 
visit has been successfully transmuted into a "diplomatic 
necessity"; and many even speak of it as a stroke of diplo- 
matic genius. If the invitation had been rendered by Presi- 
dent Eisenhower in his capacity as principal agent of Amer- 
ican foreign policy, the deed would have been explosive 
enough. But the true dimensions of our national crisis be- 
came visible on the appearance of the concentric ripples of 
assent that followed upon the issuance of the invitation. A 
splendid idea, said the chairman of the Foreign Relations 
Committee of the Senate. And all the world concurs. 

And in a matter of days, we were being solemnly advised 
by the majority of the editorial writers of the nation that a) 
the invitation was bound to meet with the approval of all 
those who favor peace in the world and good will toward 
men; and that b) in any event, those who opposed the invita- 
tion have no alternative save to abide by the spirit that 
moved the President as a matter of loyalty. "If you have to 
throw something at him," said Mr. Nixon upon touching 
ground after his visit to Moscow, "throw flowers." And then 
Mr. Gallup confirmed the popularity of the President's deci- 
sionwhich, it turns out, exceeds even the popularity of the 
President himself. 

I do not recall that six months earlier Mr. Gallup had can- 
vassed the American people on the question whether Mr. 
Khrushchev should be invited to this country, but I doubt 


that anyone would dispute my guess that as emphatic a 
majority would then have voted against the visit. 

What happened? The sheer cogency of the invitation evi- 
dently struck the people as forcibly as the superiority of 
round as against square wheels is said one day to have struck 
our primitive ancestors. Obviously the visit is in order, the 
people seem to have grasped, giving way before the intui- 
tions and analyses of their leaders. How mischievous is the 
habit of adducing reasons behind everything that is done! 
I can, happily and unassailably, delight in lobster and despise 
crabmeat all my life so long as I refrain from giving reasons 
why the one food suits and the other sickens. But when I 
seek rationally to motivate my preferences, I lose my author- 
ity. If only the publicists had refrained from shoring up the 
President's caprice with a Gothic rational structure! But no. 
We are a rational people. We do nothing without cause. 
There must be cause behind the invitation; and so the rea- 
sons for it are conjured up. 

I have not heard a "reason" why Khrushchev should come 
to this country that is not in fact a reason why he should not 
come to this country. He will see for himself the health and 
wealth of the land? Very well; and having confirmed the 
fact, what are we to expect? That he will weaken in his ad- 
herence to his maniacal course? Because the average Amer- 
ican has the use of one and two-thirds toilets? One might as 
well expect the Bishop of Rome to break the apostolic suc- 
cession upon being confronted by the splendid new YMCA 
in Canton, Ohio. Does Khrushchev really doubt that there 
are 67 million automobiles in this country? What is he to 
do now that he is here? Count them? And if it is true that he 
doubts the statistics on American production and the Amer- 
ican way of life, statistics that have been corroborated by his 
own technicians then what reason is there to believe that 
he will trust the evidence of his own eyes as more reliable? 

On the Visit of Khrushchev [45 

And what will he do if there is a discrepancy? Fire Alger 

If Khrushchev were a man to be moved by empirical 
brushes with reality, how could he continue to believe in 
Communism? He cannot turn a corner in the Soviet Union 
without colliding against stark evidence of the fraudulence 
of Marxist theory. Where is the workers' paradise? In the 
two-room apartments that house five families? In the frozen 
reaches where he commits to slavery the millions who fail to 
appreciate the fact that under the Marxist prescription they 
have been elevated to a state of total freedom? In the head- 
quarters of the secret police where files are kept on every 
citizen of the Soviet Union on the presumption that every 
citizen is an enemy of the proletarian state? 

Any man who is capable of being affected by the evidence 
of things as they are need not leave Russia to discover that 
the major premises of Karl Marx are mistaken. Dante culti- 
vated a love of heaven by demonstrating the horrors of hell. 
It did not occur to him that the devil might be converted by 
taking him around the glories of the court of the Medici. 
What reason have we to believe that a man who knows 
Russia and still has not rejected Marx will be moved by the 
sight of Levittown? 

But even if Khrushchev fails to readjust his views after 
witnessing the economic miracles wrought by capitalism 
in which connection it is relevant to recall the amazement of 
American industrial leaders on discovering during Mikoyan's 
visit that he knew more about American industrial accom- 
plishments than they did even if Khrushchev finds out that 
Mikoyan was right all along, will he learn that other great 
lesson which the President advanced as a principal "reason" 
why Khrushchev should come? Is he going to encounter that 
firmness of American resolution which will cause him, when 
he returns to Russia, to furrow his brow in anxiety on resum- 
ing the war against us? 

I suggest that this brings us to the major reason why 


Khrushchev should not have been invited. If indeed the na- 
tion is united behind Mr. Eisenhower in this invitation, then 
the nation is united behind an act of diplomatic sentimental- 
ity which can only confirm Khrushchev in the contempt he 
feels for the dissipated morale of a nation far gone, as the 
theorists of Marxism have all along contended, in decrepi- 
tude. That he should be invited to visit here as though he 
were susceptible to a rational engagement! That he should 
achieve orthodox diplomatic recognition not three years after 
shocking history itself by the brutalities of Budapest; months 
after endorsing the shooting down of an unarmed American 
plane; only weeks since he last shrieked his intention, in 
Foreign Affairs, of demolishing the West should it show any 
resistance to the march of socialism; only days since publish- 
ing in an American magazine his undiluted resolve to enslave 
the citizens of Free Berlin that such an introduction should 
end up constituting his credentials for a visit to America will 
teach him something about the West some of us wish he 
might never have known. 

What is it stands in the way of Communism's march? The 
little homilies of American capitalism? A gigantic air force 
which depends less on gasoline than on the pronouncements 
of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy to know whether 
it can ever be airborne? Have we not something more to face 
Khrushchev with? Is this indeed the nature of the enemy? 
Khrushchev is entitled to wonder exultantly, after twelve 
days of giddy American cameraderie will he not cherish as 
never before the pronouncements of Marx about the weak- 
ness of the capitalist opposition? Will he not return con- 
vinced that behind the modulated hubbub at the White 
House, in the State Department, at the city halls, at the 
economic clubs, at the industrial banquets, he heard with 
his own ears the death rattle of the West? Is there a reason 
why we should voluntarily expose to the enemy the great 
lesion of the West our deficient understanding which saps 
the will without which we can never save the world for free- 

On the Visit of Khrushchev [47 

dom? Will Khrushchev respect us more as, by our deeds, 
we proclaim and proclaim again and again our hallucination, 
in the grinding teeth of the evidence, that we and the Soviet 
Union can work together for a better world? 

It is the imposture of irrationality in the guise of rational- 
ity that frightens. The visit is timely, we are told. Why? State 
one reason. Why was it not timely, if it is timely now, a 
year ago? If Eisenhower is correct now in welcoming Khrush- 
chev, then was he not wrong yesterday in not welcoming 
him? But we were all pro-Eisenhower yesterday when he 
declared he would not meet with the Soviet leaders while 
under pressure of blackmail in regard to Berlin. And yet we 
are pro-Eisenhower today when he proceeds to meet with 
Khrushchev, with the threat still hanging over us. If it is so 
very urgent that we should acquaint Khrushchev with the 
highways and byways of the United States, why is Eisen- 
hower doing it seven long years after he first had the op- 
portunity? Why has the same nation that implicitly endorsed 
the social boycott of Soviet leaders changed its mind so 
abruptly to harmonize with so dissonant a change in posi- 
tion by our lackadaisical President? (The social history of the 
White House under Mr. Eisenhower will, after all, record only 
one exclusion and one addition during his tenure. Khrush- 
chev was added, Senator McCarthy was ejected. And both 
times, the thousands cheered. ) Is it a mark of loyalty to go 
along? What if Mr. Eisenhower had announced that, upon 
reflection, Red China should be invited into the United Na- 
tions? Would it be a mark of loyalty for us to assent? Or if 
he had decided to yield Quemoy and Matsu? A mark of loy- 
alty to go along? And Berlin? 

This afternoon Mayor Robert Wagner danced attendance 
upon Mr. Khrushchev. Did he do so because Premier Khrush- 
chev is head of a foreign state and so entitled, ex ofEcio, to 
the hospitality of New York's mayor? It isn't that simple. 
Last year Mayor Wagner ostentatiously announced his re- 
fusal to greet Ibn Saud on the ground that Ibn Saud dis- 


criminates against the Jews in Saudi Arabia, and no man who 
discriminates against Jews in Saudi Arabia is by God going 
to be handled courteously by Bob Wagner, mayor of New 
York. Now, as everybody knows, Nikita Khrushchev not only 
discriminates against Jews, he kills them. On the other hand, 
he does much the same thing to Catholics and Protestants. 
Could that be why Mr. Wagner consented to honor Khrush- 
chev? Khrushchev murders people without regard to race, 
color or creed that is, on straight FEPC lines; and there- 
fore, whatever he is guilty of, he is not guilty of discrimina- 
tion, and so he is entitled to Robert Wagner's hospitality? 
Is that the shape of the new rationality? 

It is the central revelation of Western experience that man 
cannot ineradicably stain himself, for the wells of regenera- 
tion are infinitely deep. No temple has ever been so profaned 
that it cannot be purified; no man is every truly lost; no 
nation irrevocably dishonored. Khrushchev cannot take per- 
manent advantage of our temporary disadvantage, for it is 
the West he is fighting. And in the West there lie, however 
encysted, the ultimate resources, which are moral in nature. 
Khrushchev is not aware that the gates of hell shall not pre- 
vail against us. Even out of the depths of despair, we take 
heart in the knowledge that it cannot matter how deep we 
fall, for there is always hope. In the end, we will bury him. 


AT worst, the Great Vacillation could undo the good 
that was accomplished by the defeat of the Republicans (let 
us call them what they liked to call themselves) in 1939. The 
agonizing indecisiveness of Francisco Franco is sapping the 
justification from his leadership: until one day his country- 
men, even those of kindred philosophical commitment, may 
abominate him as an impostor whose franchise long since 
expired, and whose continued power derives from the fact, 
simply, that he has the power to exercise power; nothing 

General Franco is an authentic national hero. It is gener- 
ally conceded that he above others had the combination of 
talents, the perseverance, and the sense of righteousness of 
his cause that were required to wrest Spain from the hands 
of the visionaries, ideologues, Marxists, and nihilists that 
were imposing upon her, in the thirties, a regime so gro- 
tesque as to do violence to the Spanish soul, to deny, even, 
Spain's historical identity. He saved the day but he did not, 
like Cincinnatus, thereupon return to his plow. 

But the decision to stay on was itself a patriotic one. Spain 
was in danger of bleeding to death after the fray. And then a 
world war broke out. The pressure on all sides was great. The 
need was imperative for delicacy and dissimulation and con- 
tradiction and ambiguity and delay: for a national policy at 
the immediate disposal of a single person who might, con- 
stantly preserving just the desired balance, make this con- 
cession to Churchill this morning, that one to Hitler this 



afternoon, and tomorrow take a position uncongenial to both. 

Hitler the record showscussed Franco out continually: 
but the ultimate provocation, which would have brought a 
Panzer division to Madrid, was never forthcoming. Roose- 
velt and Churchill fumed at Franco's neutrality: but the cost 
to Spain of Allied wrath was not catastrophic. There was the 
petulant diplomatic ostracism of the postwar years, and mis* 
cellaneous economic discriminations. But Franco had got his 
neutrality, had preserved the independence of Spain, and 
that was what he wanted for a nation still racked by the con* 
sequences of her own tribulation. 

So the war ended. What crisis warranted continued total 
power? Economic rehabilitation Franco proclaimed in a 
hostile world in which Communism thrives. To be sure, 
Spain was in sorry economic shape, and Communism was, 
and still is, thriving. But these were not problems that de- 
manded immediate surgery by the intern in attendance at 
two o'clock in the morning: the patient was not in danger 
of momentary collapse. Still, the rhetoric was hammered in 
by engines of inculcation grown accustomed to the jab of 
justifying one man's rule. 

But this time Franco began to lose support from men- 
loyal followers during the civil and world wars who felt 
that Franco had begun to contrive reasons why he, and only 
he, should govern. What, they began to ask, was the meaning 
of the civil war, which we fought at so great a cost, if not that 
there is an approach to government in Spain that is legiti- 
mate, and another that is illegitimate; and however prefer- 
able Franco is to Indalecio Prieto, or to anarchy, he is not 
at least not all by himself a legitimate governor of Spain. 

There is the sense in which the exercise of de facto power 
tends, as the years go by, to legitimize the regime that wields 
it. But there are situations in which the longer power is ex- 
ercised, the less legitimately is it exercised. In the one sense 
Franco, having been around for quite a while, has become if 

Tell Franco the War Is Over [51 

not legitimate, at least integrated. In the second sense, 
Franco's title diminishes every day. And it is for Franco the 
source of deep concern (for his pride is also involved) that 
he is not, and cannot become, the legitimate ruler of Spain 
on the only terms in which he knows how to rule. However 
sincere the respect his champions have for Franco, however 
reverential their tone or affectionate their esteem, they know, 
and he know, and history knows, that Franco did not, in 
virtue of his heroism in the thirties, earn the right to govern 
absolutely in the sixties. Moreover, until a stable, authen- 
tically Spanish, self-generative and perpetuating government 
is established is the civil war quite over? 

A person in a position to know informs me that the prin- 
cipal difficulty the king, Don Juan, and Franco have had in 
arriving at a basis whence fruitful discussion might proceed 
has had to do, precisely, with the question of the legitimacy 
of Franco's long tenure. Franco insists that he is engaged in 
the business of looking for a successor to his regime. Don 
Juan is said to insist that Franco's stewardship has merely 
been caretaking in character, that the king's sovereignty 
traces back to the character of the Spanish nation, that pre- 
cisely the meaning of Franco's military victory was the re- 
affirmation of that sovereignty. On such formal questions the 
fate of nations is sometimes decided (remember the fleur- 
de-lis? ) . Don Juan does not expect, and his followers do not 
have in mind for him, anything like the power that once was 
wielded by Spanish monarchs. ( On this point, Don Juan was 
explicit in a conversation I had with him in Portugal.) He 
is to be chief of state; but never chief of government. Yet 
restoration, it is widely felt, would mean something more 
than merely an esthetic or nominal reorganization of Spanish 
government. It would mean the re-establishment of the sym- 
bols of legitimacy in context of which Spain might once 
again address herself to the task of devising viable political 
forms. These would almost surely not be democratic; but, as 
surely, they would aim at the maximization of personal 


liberty to a point consistent with the limitations imposed by 
die character of Spanish society. "The American Constitu- 
tion is an admirable document/' a prominent anti-Franco, 
antidemocratic Spanish intellectual told me, "but if we want 
American democracy for Spain, the thing to do is not to im- 
port the Constitution, but to import Americans/' 

Meanwhile, Franco reigns, and reigns supreme. His is not 
properly speaking a regime. It is an autocracy. There is no 
reliable independent apparatus of appeal against any of his 
decisions. Excepting only the Catholic Church, he dom- 
inates everything: tie Falange Party, the army, the parlia- 
ment, the courts, the economy, education, the press. He is 
not an oppressive dictator. He is only as oppressive as it is 
necessary to be to maintain total power, and that, it happens, 
is not very oppressive, for the people, by and large, are 
content. To put it more exactly, to the extent they are not 
content, they do not tend to hold Franco responsible for that 
discontent. The intellectuals, in hindsight, recognize the inap- 
propriateness of the republic most of them once supported; 
but they are restive, anxious to get on with the job of crafting 
organic and responsive and durable political mechanisms. 

The youth, on the other hand, are impatient to the point of 
exasperation. The infinite indecisiveness of Franco, the theo- 
retical unintelligibility of his course down myriad paths, is 
making them fretful. The rhetoric of the regime, moreover, 
cloys, and the exorbitance with which the accomplishments 
of the regime are officially recorded is breeding a corrosive 
cynicism. Could it be the youth are begining to wonder- 
that the official interpretation of the civil war is as distorted 
as the official account of the economic triumphs of contem- 
porary Spain? It would be an irony, of the very very tragic 
kind, if Francisco Franco should, having saved Spain from 
chaos, lead her back into it. 


I HAVE lectured before to military aggregations and 
I am aware of the preference of your profession for direct 
action, whether military or rhetorical. The day before yester- 
day, at Quemoy, Captain Wang succeeded in a mere fifteen 
minutes in giving his visitors a comprehensive view of the 
military and strategic situation involving that perky redoubt; 
but I could not hope to do so well as he, in telling you things 
you need to know about the Liberal mind in America, things 
which are as important to understand as is the mind of the 
enemy. So let me, please, wind into this complex subject in 
my own oblique way. 

One learns from a study of opposites. And my experience 
during the past few days in Taiwan has given me knowledge 
not only of your own situation, but knowledge as well, by 
contrast, of our own in America. I cannot say that I have 
come to know Taiwan or its people or its officials. I can only 
say that during the past five days I have engaged in Stakhan- 
ovite endeavors to learn something about yourselves and 
your great enterprise. I feel like Will Rogers, who came back 
to New York from Russia in 1931, having made a short trip 
there which included a visit to one of Russia's famous com- 
munity baths. "Did you see all of Russia?" a reporter asked 
the humorist when he landed. "No, but I saw aU of parts of 
Russia." I have seen all of parts of Taiwan surely there does 
not exist a Chinese or Taiwanese dish that I have not grate- 
fully consumed. And surely there does not exist, in all your 

* An address delivered to the National Defense Research Institute, Taiwan. 



vast repository, a single resource of hospitality and kindness 
that I have not tasted. And I have seen something of your 
agricultural program, your dam building, your bureaucracy, 
your intellectuals, your politicians, your press, your diplo- 
mats, your soldiers, your strategists, your propagandists; but 
most important, I have seen something of your spirit. And 
it is in sharp contrast to the spirit of many men strategically 
situated in America. They are people who call themselves 
Liberals. The historians among you will immediately object 
that they have no tide to that august designation; but the 
world of words is ruled by an absolute democracy: so that 
today in America, those people have come to be known as 
Liberals who in domestic affairs argue for an increase in the 
concentration of social, political and economic power in the 
hands of the state; and who in foreign policy follow the road 
of appeasement and withdrawal, for reasons that derive from 
their dependence upon a complex of philosophical heresies* 

Assume that change dominates man, rather than that man 
can dominate change; assume that God is dead; assume that 
the people of the world will respond with Pavlovian pre- 
dictability to material inducements; assume that it is within 
the power of the human will to produce instant prosperity; 
assume that the enemy's movement is essentially a response, 
however misconceived, to the legitimate social aspirations 
of the people; assume that nothing is more important than 
peace, and that the way to have peace is to compromise with 
the enemy; assume all those things, and those many other 
things that derive from them, and you have the archetype of 
the American Liberal. You have, in a word, Chester Bowles. 

You may not be aware that in the United States there is at 
this moment a festering dissatisfaction with the failures of 
American foreign policy, and that some of those whose dis- 
tress is keen have come up with the theory that the reason 
the free world has lost so much in recent years is because 
we have been, in the orthodox sense, betrayed. These per- 

Will Formosa Liberate the United States? [55 

sons reason schematically, as though on a blackboardas 

Premise A: The United States was, in 1945, the most pow- 
erful nation in the world. Militarily it was supreme. Its 
allies controlled over two-thirds of the world's surface, and 
the overwhelming part of the world's wealth. The enemy's 
home base, in contrast, was racked by the ravages of war. 
An internal police force of three million persons was needed 
to maintain the Bolshevik despotism. . . . 

Premise B: Fifteen years later China was gone, as was 
eastern Europe. Communist revolutionaries were at work 
through the world, the enemy had got hold of the atomic 
bomb and intercontinental rockets, and secured a base ninety 
miles from the Florida coast. 

Conclusion: It can only be that American foreign policy 
has been subverted by Communist agents. 

That analysis has a superficial appeal. But those who adopt 
itand they are very few, though they have lately received 
much publicity fail to understand: the American Liberal. 
It is he who has, by and large, most greatly influenced Amer- 
ican foreign policy since the war. These men and women are 
not Communists. They are anti-Communists. The trouble is 
not that of motivation. The trouble is that the Liberals do not 
understand reality, and do not feel the devotion to our cause 
that alone can generate the will to victory. 

Rather than illustrate what I mean by examining the 
Liberals' position on general categories or problems, let us 
bear down on the Liberals' attitude toward your own coun- 
try, and your own enterprise. 

They begin: The reason for the loss of the mainland was 
the corruption and ensuing impotence of the government 
of Chiang Kai-shek. 

One replies: A number of things contributed to the loss of 
the mainland. Among them was the ambiguity of American 
support of Chiang during the postwar years, and the artificial 
exuberance and audacity of the Communist movements 


everywhere when the weakness of the Western will was fully 
realized. Would the Chinese Communists have dared do 
what they did had the United States, for instance, prepared 
to go to war if necessary in 1946 to require the Soviet Union 
to live up to its pledges with respect to Poland? But uncon- 
genial facts shatter against the breastworks of Liberal dogma. 

We can state as Liberal Proposition One: Every Com- 
munist success is to be explained in terms of the internal situ- 
ation. American leadership has nothing to do with it. Thus 
the Liberals tell us it was the corruption of Batista that led 
to Castro's satellization of Cubait had nothing to do with 
any failure of the United States, during 1958 and in the 
early months of Castro's tenure, properly to assess, and then 
control, the evolution of Castro's government. In Laos, we 
are told, there is nothing we can do. Internal events the 
aggressions of the Communists, the irresolution and con- 
fusion of the Laotian forces, the difficulty of the terrain, the 
poverty of the people leave us with no alternative than 
merely to stand by with perhaps an occasional trip to the 
scene by Lyndon Johnson to deliver grandiose elegies. 

There was nothing we could do do you remember? to 
prevent the loss of Czechoslovakia, the suppression of the 
Budapest rioters, the Communization of Tibet, all of them 
allegedly the result of internal imperatives. Similarly, the 
Liberals are prepared to say, there is nothing we can do if 
a majority of the delegates to the General Assembly of the 
United Nations decide to recognize the government of Mao 
Tse-tung as the legal representative of China. 

They go on. "It is unrealistic to talk about the liberation 
of China. What is done is done, and the best we can do is 
come to grips with reality." 

One replies: But the facts argue that there are great pos- 
sibilities, if we move decisively. The facts show that the 
control by the Communists over mainland China is weaker 
today than it was ten years ago, notwithstanding an at- 
tempted euthanasia of the middle class, a continuing pro- 

Witt Formosa Liberate the United States? [57 

gram of hatred against the West, and against Chiang Kai- 
shek in particular. The facts show that China sits nervously 
by, waiting, like cordite, to be touched by a spark. Apply 
it, and China might burst into flamesflames which would 
consume the Communist leadership. 

Thus we state Liberal Proposition Two: There is no chang- 
ing an adverse existing situation. 

If mainland China is in the hands of the Communists, we 
must proceed on the assumption that it will always be in the 
hands of the Communists. The United States Government 
made a halfhearted attempt to change the course of events 
in Cuba: the Liberals, including those within the Adminis- 
tration, disapproved of this effort to defy historical determin- 
ism. And so, the effort having failed as the result of a last- 
minute submission by the President to Liberal dogma, Cuba 
has been progressively totalitarianized. And no meaningful 
plans are now being made for its liberation. The scattered 
forces of resistance, mostly clustered in Greater Miami, face 
the same situation you faced ten years ago: but with this 
difference. They have no Taiwan to which to flee. And they 
have no acknowledged leader behind whose banner to con- 
solidate. Otherwise it is much the same. They dream of 
liberation even as the White Russians used to do in Paris 
during the 1920s; but can they hope? For there is no Ameri- 
can policy of liberation. 

Change is defined, according to Liberal usage, as that 
which works against the free world. There is no such thing 
as "change" away from Communism. Did you notice that 
when the East Germans erected the Wall in Berlin on the 
13th of August, there was no protest from the United States 
Government? Or rather, there was a protest, but that was all, 
and Khrushchev counts it a day lost when he does not re- 
ceive at least one Western protest. Now our calculations are 
based on the fact of the Wall, not on the question whether 
we can succeed in tearing it down. In British Guiana our 
calculations are based on the fact that a Communist has 


been elected premier not on the question whether he can 
be removed. In Indonesia our policy is based on the fact of 
Sukarno's pre-eminence not on the question whether the 
anti-Communist rebels could be helped to overthrow it. And 
in the Far East, our policy is based on the fact of Red 
Chinese control of the mainland not on the question 
whether we might succeed in restoring the mainland to anti- 
Communist control. 

The Liberals go on: An offensive by Formosa is likely to 
bring on a third world war, which will be the end of all of us. 

One replies: In fact, the Soviet Union will not engage in 
a nuclear war so long as she is convinced that the United 
States is ready to reply in kind, and has the capacity to do so. 
That is what is generally called the nuclear stalemate, or the 
balance of terror. It gave birth to the concept of the limited 
war, and it is that kind of a war of liberation which those 
who would re-enter China favor. 

And so we come to Liberal Proposition Three: All the 
roads that lead to the recovery of freedom., or to the diminu- 
tion of Communist power, are closed to us, because to fol- 
low them would mean to risk nuclear war. This is the 
clinching argument in all Liberal rhetoric, by which they 
paralyze all purposive action, everywhere in the world, that 
aims at the improvement of the position of the free world. 

Here is the ultimate mischief that Liberalism is capable 
of performing, and in this respect Liberalism most clearly 
does the work of the Communists, the object of whose propa- 
ganda for years has been discernible: namely, to terrorize 
the West into inactivity by threats of nuclear war. Every 
year, the movement for unilateral disarmament grows. The 
ultimate meaning for the world of the Liberals' strategic 
counsels can only mean surrender. 

The way to have peace and freedom for all the world is to 
neutralize those powers that are hell-bent on war and slavery. 
And the way to effect progress, on the Chinese front as on all 
other fronts, is militantly to encourage those rare spirits and 

Will Formosa Liberate the United States? [59 

I am surrounded by them here tonight who are willing to 
risk their lives in order to bring freedom to themselves and 
their families, and to decrease the possibility of a nuclear 
war at some later stage when, conceivably, the enemy might 
outpace the United States in the development of a definitive 
weapon. Any sign of weakness by the free world increases 
the appetite of the enemy for more war and more conquest. 
What is more, prolonged delays could advance the ascend- 
ancy of the pacifist movement, the results of which would 
mean, inexorably, war, and slavery, for the entire world. 

That vivid contrast, then, to which I have alluded, and 
from which I have learned so much from this visit, is be- 
tween, on the one hand, the hopes and plans of the leader- 
ship of your movement and, on the other, the worries and 
fears of the leadership of the Liberal movement in America. 
We are more powerful than you by far; richer than you by 
many billions of dollars. But by your example, we may yet 
live. For a few stunning days, early in November in 1956, 
the freedom fighters of Budapest held the entire Communist 
world at bay. America was struck by the intensity and ef- 
ficacyof the anti-Communist spirit, and we were breathless 
with wonder and admiration. But in the end, we did nothing. 
"For a while," Mr. Eugene Lyons, a wise and veteran Amer- 
ican anti-Communist, remarked to me, "it looked almost as 
though Budapest would liberate the United States/' I leave 
Taiwan believing that it may be your mission to liberate the 
United States. 


I got my job through 
The New York Times 

IT is very much as in the early months of 1950 when, 
having chased the last remnants of the opposition off the 
mainland, Mao Tse-tung, wild with ideological lust, sur- 
veyed his kingdom, and threw himself into the job of Com- 
munizing his people. He chopped off many more heads than 
Fidel Castro has had so far to do in Cuba, and there are no 
doubt differences between Mao and Fidel, as there are be- 
tween China and Cuba; but then as now, as the public 
slowly awoke to the meaning of what had happened, the 
apologists for the revolutionary forces began to retreat in 
increasing horror from their sometime enthusiasm. Those 
who had told us again and again that the Red Chinese were 
primarily agrarian reformers began to fade away, only to 
reappear, many of them, before congressional committees, 
which asked them the same questions they are now begin- 
ning to ask the propagandists for Castro, questions to which 
we desperately need the answer, now as then: Who betrayed 
China? Who betrayed Cuba? Who in the process betrayed 
the United States? 

There is no longer any defensible defense of the regime of 
Mao Tse-tung. But here and there, there are pockets of loyalty 
to Castro. There is a Fair Play for Cuba Committee, which 
may or may not be dominated by fellow travelers, but which 
certainly has among its supporters some men who are not 
fellow travelers, men whose faith in Castro is livelier, alas, 
than freedom is in Cuba. The leader of pro-Castro opinion 
in the United States is Herbert L. Matthews, a member of 


Herbert Matthews and Fidel Castro [61 

the editorial staff of The New York Times. He did more than 
any other single man to bring Fidel Castro to power. It 
could be said with a little license that Matthews was to 
Castro what Owen Lattimore was to Red China, and that 
The New York Times was Matthews' Institute of Pacific Re- 
lations: stressing this important difference, that no one has 
publicly developed against Matthews anything like the evi- 
dence subsequently turned up against Lattimore tending to 
show, in the words of a Senate investigating committee, that 
Lattimore was "a conscious, articulate instrument of the 
Soviet conspiracy." 

Herbert Matthews met Castro in February of 1957. To 
make contact with him as he tells the story he had to get 
in touch with the Fidelista underground in Havana, drive 
500 miles all one night across the length of the island, using 
his wife as cover; and ride a jeep through tortuous dirt-road 
detours to avoid the patrols and roadblocks that an angry 
Fulgencio Batista had posted all about the Sierra Maestra 
mountains in the eastern tip of the island, to try to break the 
back of the little resistance group that two months earlier 
had landed, 82-strong, in Oriente Province in a diesel cutter 
from Mexico, pledged to 'liberate" Cuba, or perish. 

Matthews climbed up muddy slopes, swam across an icy 
river, ducked behind trees, ate soda crackers, and slept on the 
ground: and then, in the early morning hours, Fidel Castro 
came. In whispers, he talked for three hours about his plans 
for Cuba. 

To put it mildly, Matthews was overwhelmed. From that 
moment on he appears to have lost all critical judgment. He 
became always consistent with being a writer for The New 
York Times, which imposes certain inhibitions the Number 
One unbearded enthusiast for Fidel Castro. 

Castro, he told the world in a series of three articles that 
made journalistic and indeed international history, is a big, 
brave, strong, relentless, dedicated, tough idealist His tin- 


swerving aid is to bring to Cuba "liberty, democracy, and 
social justice." There is seething discontent with Dictator 
Batista, corrupt and degenerate, after virtually 25 years of 
exercising power; hated by most Cubans for having installed 
himself as President in March of 1952 by military coup; be- 
come, now, a terrorist and a torturer. Fidel Castro is the 
"flaming symbol" of resistance. The fires of social justice that 
drive Castro on, that cause him to bear incredible hardships, 
playing impossible odds, with the single end in mind of 
bringing freedom to his people, these are fires that warm the 
hearthsides of freedom and decency all over the land: and 
they will prevail. . . . 

Is Castro's movement touched by Communism? Matthews 
dismissed the rhetorical question with scorn. Castro's move- 
ment "is democratic, therefore anti-Communist." And, flatly, 
''There is no Communism to speak of in Fidel Castro s 26th 
of July Movement." 

The impact of these articles all over the world was subse- 
quently recognized even by The New York Times itself, 
normally bashful about celebrating publicly its achieve- 
ments. When, almost two years later, Batista fell, the Times 
permitted itself to record jubilantly: "When a correspondent 
of The New York Times returned from Senor Castro's hide- 
out [from that point on, by the way, Senor Castro was ele- 
vated by the Times to "Dr." Castro] . . . the rebel leader 
attained a new level of importance on the Cuban scene. Nor 
was the embarrassed government ever able to diminish 
Fidel Castro's repute again." 

Foreign correspondents have been very much mistaken 
before. Foreign correspondents who work for The New York 
Times are no exception, as anyone knows who will attempt 
to reconcile Soviet history and accounts of same filed over 
the years by, e.g., Walter Duranty and Harrison Salisbury; 
who will, in a word, attempt the impossible. It is bad enough 
that Herbert Matthews was hypnotized by Fidel Castro, but 

Herbert Matthews and Fidel Castro [63 

it was a calamity that Matthews succeeded in hypnotizing 
so many other people in crucial positions of power on the 
subject of Castro. "When I was Ambassador to Cuba," Mr. 
Earl E. T. Smith complained to the Senate Subcommittee on 
Internal Security last August, "I ... sometimes made the re- 
mark in my own Embassy that Mr. Matthews was more 
familiar with State Department thinking regarding Cuba 
than I was." 

As ambassador assigned to Havana in August of 1957, Mr. 
Smith had been the representative of the United States Gov- 
ernment in Cuba during the 18 crucial months that brought 
Castro to power, and he used just that word: Matthews' 
articles on Castro, he told the Senators, had literally "hypno- 
tized" the State Department. Even as early as the summer of 
1957, when Smith took over the ambassadorship from Arthur 
Gardner, the influence of Matthews was established only a 
few months after the Castro interview in his hideout. Am- 
bassador Gardner had met with stony resistance every time 
he attempted to pass on to his superiors the information he 
had about the nature of the Castro movement, which he was 
convinced correctly, it proved was shot through with Marx- 
ism. Gardner made himself such a nuisance that he was re- 
placed; and his successor was instructed by Mr. William 
Wieland of the State Department, in charge of the Caribbean 
desk, to cap his month's briefing on the Cuba situation by 
consulting Herbert L. Matthews. Matthews told Smith that 
Batista was in all probability through. Castro > he said, was 
the man to back. 

Smith went to Havana determined to do what he could, 
within the limits of propriety, to ease Batista out of the way. 
Batista pledged to hold elections in November 1958 and turn 
the presidency over to his successor in March 1959. The ques- 
tion in Smith's mind was whether he would last that long. 
Within two months after arriving in Cuba, Mr. Smith 
sincerely hoped he would; for he became convinced, he told 
the Senate committee, that the principal danger to the 


United States lay not in the survival of Batista for a year or 
so, but in the rise to power of Fidel Castro who was almost 
certainly a revolutionary 'Marxist. Abundant evidence was 
available that he had made "Marxist statements" in Costa 
Rica, in Mexico, and in Bogotd; and that, dating back to his 
college days, he had been a revolutionist and a terrorist. 
Smith had even heard and had passed the report along 
that while in Bogota, Castro had had a hand in the assassina- 
tion of two nuns and a priest. 

But even if Castro wasn't then pro-Communist, Smith 
said, his closest associates were, and this was positively 
documented with respect to his brother Raul (now head of 
Cuba's armed forces) and Ernesto "Che" Guevara (boss of 
the Cuban economy). 

But the ambassador's warnings were to no avail. During 
the succeeding 18 months, Herbert Matthews continued to 
write glowing accounts of the Robin Hood of the Sierra 
Maestra, predicting the downfall of Batista and the ascend- 
ancy of the 26th of July Movement. Others got into the act. 
The influential Foreign Policy Association's Bulletin for April 
1, 1957, carried an article by Matthews on Cuba, followed 
by a list of "Reading Suggestions" prepared by the editors. 
Among them: cc The best source of contemporary information 
of a general nature is probably the files of The New York 
Times, which published three uncensored articles on Cuba 
by Herbert Matthews on Feb. 24, 25, 26, 1957." The State 
Department went along. "Herbert Matthews ... is the lead- 
ing Latin American editorial writer for The New York Times." 
"Obviously," said Ambassador Smith, "the State Department 
would like to have the support of The New York Times" 

"Each month the situation deteriorates" Matthews exulted 
on June 16, 1957, a theme he elaborated in further dispatches 
in the succeeding months. Looking back at these reports one 
can only say: How right Mr. Matthews was. Batista was 
losing, and Castro was gaining. But Reporter Matthews 
neglected to give all the reasons why, just as he consistently 

Herbert Matthews and Fidel Castro [65 

neglected to report on the lurid background of Fidel Castro 
and some of his associates. The increasing helplessness of 
Batista was the result primarily of the crystallization of U. S. 
support for Castro. During those months a fascinating dia- 
lectic went on. Matthews would write that American prestige 
was sinking in Cuba on account of the aid the United States 
Government was giving to Batista. Our Ambassador in 
Havana meanwhile complained and complained to the State 
Department of the demoralization of the Batista government 
on account of our failure to provide Batista with the aid to 
which, under the terms of a series of mutual aid agreements, 
we were bound by law and precedent to give him so long as 
we continued to recognize his government. 

Matthews' forces proved much stronger than our ambas- 
sador's. An important segment of the press, influential mem- 
bers of Congress, and the Castro apparatus in Washington 
and New York hammered away at the State Department, 
urging it to desert Batista. At first the Department stalled. 
When Castro kidnapped 47 American servicemen in June 
1958, the Government eagerly seized on the opportunity to 
hold up the shipment of 15 training planes that Batista was 
lawfully importing. "In accordance with instructions from the 
State Department," Smith testified, "I informed Batista that 
delivery would be suspended, because we feared some harm 
might come to the kidnapped Americans." Having yielded to 
blackmail, the U. S. Government then refused to deliver the 
airplanes even after Castro had been prevailed upon to turn 
the soldiers free. Bastista's forces were becoming seriously 
demoralized by the growing aloofness of the U.S. Govern- 
ment, even while Castro was getting, the ex-ambassador 
went on to say, illicitly exported shipments of arms "almost 
every night" from friends of Castro in the United States. By 
November it was clear that Batista's days were numbered. 
On the 17th of December, Ambassador Smith received or- 
ders from the State Department to advise Batista that he 
could no longer exercise power, not even pending the institu- 


tion of the new President a few months later whom the 
United States would not back in any case, since he had been 
fraudulently elected, and didn't have the support of the 
Cuban people. Two weeks later, Batista fled. 

The next morning, on the first day of the New Year 1959, 
Mr. Roy Rubottom, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter- 
American Affairs, announced that there was "no evidence" 
that "Castro is under Communist influence." Clearly he had 
paid no attention to his own ambassador to Cuba. As clearly, 
he read The New York Times. 

During the 1960 campaign, both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. 
Nixon expended a considerable amount of rhetoric on the 
subject of Cuba. For they knew that the birth, right up 
against the Florida peninsula, of what is now officially classi- 
fied by the government (under the terms of the Dirksen- 
Douglas Amendment to the Mutual Security Act) as "Com- 
munist" territory, is a development that has deeply disturbed 
the American people. They want to know who, or what, was 
the Frankenstein who created the monster. 

Mr. Kennedy blasted Mr. Nixon on the grounds that Cas- 
tro and Castroism had come about as a reaction against 
America's tolerance of right-wing dictators a familiar line, 
advanced by those who sincerely feel it is an American obliga- 
tion to purify internal Latin American politics. But Mr. Ken- 
nedy was not convincing to those who remembered that in 
May, shortly before his nomination, he had said publicly 
that in two respects he backed completely the foreign policy 
of Mr. Eisenhower, "one of these being Cuba/' 

Mr. Nixon, on the other hand, pointed proudly to the dis- 
appearance of a half dozen military dictators during the 
Eisenhower years. He seemed to be suggesting that although 
the President continued officially to beam at every leader of 
every nation we formally recognize as protocol dictated- 
actually, if you looked closely, you would observe that he 
was bouncing up and down on a great bellows, which blew 

Herbert Matthews and Fidel Castro [67 

upon, and toppled one by one, the first rank of Latin Ameri- 
can badmen. Beyond that Mr. Nixon did not go. He did not 
express a detailed curiosity about the loss of Cuba to Fidel 
Castro. Indeed, both candidates gave the impression that, 
like the State Department, obviously they wanted to stay on 
the right side of The New York Times. But the candidates 
whetted the public interest, and it is likely that the Senate 
Internal Security Subcommittee will pursue its investigation 
into the strange hold of Herbert Matthews, and the 
Matthews doctrine, on the men who make our foreign policy. 

What will they learn about Mr. Matthews himself? That 
he is a scholarly, subtle man who makes and continues to 
make supercolossal mistakes in judgment, but whose loyalty 
to his misjudgments renders him a stubborn propagandist 
. . . and an easy mark for ideologues on-the-make. So well 
known is he as doyen of Utopian activists that when in June 
of 1959 a Nicaraguan rebel launched a revolt, he wired the 
news of it direct to Herbert Matthews at The New York 
Times much as, a few years ago, a debutante on-the-make 
might have wired the news of her engagement to Walter 

Matthews was once, to use his own phrase, an "enthusiastic 
admirer of Facism." He turned away from facism while in 
Spain covering the civil war, where he took up the cause of 
the Popular Front with the same ferocious partisanship that 
earlier he had shown for Mussolini's Italy, and later was to 
show for Castro's Cuba. The Spanish passion is not yet ex- 
pended. Mr. Matthews wrote a book in 1957 recommitting 
himself to the Good Guys-Bad Guys reading of a war fought 
by democrats and Communists against traditionalists and 
fascists. Always he writes with considerable sweep, and he 
loves to prophesy. His two most striking predictions of 1944 
are that the "Franco regime is tottering" and that the dis- 
banding of Russia's Comintern the year before was "the final 
indication that the Russia of 1943 and 1944 does not care to 


support revolutionary movements to bring about Communist 
states in other countries/ 7 

He has not proved over the years to be an astute judge 
of how to deal with Russia. "All they [the Russians] want is 
security/' he wrote in Collier's in 1945. "By refusing to share 
the secret of the atomic bomb we are fostering Russian sus- 
picions One can understand how they feel about our rec- 
ognition of Franco, our seizure of Pacific bases, our exclusive 
policy in Japan, our Red-baiting press and our America- 
firsters. We have set up a vicious circle of mutual distrust and 
fear." And he is not an enthusiast for the free enterprise sys- 
tem, preferring the doctrinaire socialism of postwar Britain: 
". . . while Britain slowly struggles toward economic order, 
sanity and strength," he wrote in 1946, "the British experi- 
ment will be an example [for the U. S.] to follow." 

The payoff came when on July 15, 1959, Herbert Matthews 
wrote a front-page dispatch from Havana insisting that Cas- 
tro was neither a Communist, nor "under Communist influ- 
ence," nor even a dupe of Communism. Moreover, he added, 
there are "no Communists in positions of control." Indeed, 
Castro continued to be "decidedly anti-Communist." That 
dispatch was so brazen a contradiction of events that the 
Times reluctantly pulled him away from Cuba, as one might 
pull a man away from marijuana. Since then, he has not had 
one by-lined story on Cuba. 

Subsequently, over a period of at least two years, he has 
continued to affirm his belief in the purity of the 26th of 
July Movement but mostly in the arcane journals of the 
specialists (e.g., the Hispanic American Report], and in lec- 
tures before important audiences* The fault, he says, is ours, 
for antagonizing Castro, and "forcing him" to take his present 
hard line. One might as well argue that the Jews, by protest- 
ing the confiscation of their property and the insults heaped 
upon them, forced Hitler into genocide. And in any case, Mr. 
Matthews' analysis never accounted for the compulsiveness 

Herbert Matthews and Fidel Castro [69 

with which Cuba turned to Communism, beginning almost 
immediately after Castro took power. 

Now and then Mr. Matthews invites attention to the fact 
that every one else, save himself, is out of step. 'In my thirty 
years on TJw New York Times" he told the American Society 
of Newspapermen in April 1961, "I have never seen a big 
story so misunderstood, so badly handled, and so misrepre- 
sented as the Cuban Revolution/' Those words are, as a mat- 
ter of fact, exactly true: and the fault was The New York 

The Senate subcommittee may want to know more about 
Matthews, and may want especially to know whether the 
Senate is to expect to have the honor of ratifying his appoint- 
ment as Consultant Extraordinary to the State Department. 
Certainly it will want to examine the major premises of 
Matthews' position on Cuba. For it is a position that extends 
beyond the question of Castro, and one that is shared by 
many Americans, some of whom are influential with the new 
President. That position holds, in effect, that the United 
States should interfere, adroitly to be sure, in the internal 
affairs of nondemocratic Latin American nations, Matthews 
urged exactly that in the summer of 1958, by proposing that 
the United States arbitrate the differences between Batista 
and Castro. To have done such a thing would have been a 
clear reversal of United States policy though we might 
rather have done that than what we did: namely, pull the 
rug out from under Batista, and turn the entire country over 
to Castro. 

Another article in the Matthews position is that democracy 
and only democracy distinguishes the good society. Granted, 
he is perfectly satisfied with the land of "democracy" that 
is practiced in Mexico, where everyone votes, and one party 
always wins; but it bears discussion whether "democracy" is 
the first objective of American foreign policy in Latin Amer- 
ica, or whether it is subsidiary to other concerns, including 
our own national interest, and, for the Latin Americans, in- 


ternal stability, economic viability and nonpolitical freedoms. 
(Probably the highest per capita incidence of violent deaths 
in any country this side of the Soviet Union has been in 
chaotic Colombia, a "democracy.") 

A third question is whether the United States can continue, 
in all good conscience, to encourage Americans to invest in 
Latin America. Our investments there are over $7 billion- 
making American capital the largest single job creator in 
Latin America. But the Matthews position on foreign invest- 
ment consists, as far as one can make out, in encouraging a) 
American investment in general, and b) those governments 
that seize, nationalize or tax to death that investment in 
particular. He has not, at least in any of his conspicuous 
writings, deplored Cuba's blitbe confiscation of $800 million 
of American property. Syml&^cally, the new U. S. Adminis- 
tration must answer the. question why, the more offensive 
Fidel Castro seemed to this country, the madder we got at 
General Trujillo. 


I WELCOME Mr. Mailer's interest in the American 
right wing. On behalf of the right wing let me say that we, in 
turn, are interested in Mr. Mailer, and look forward to co- 
existence and cultural exchanges with him in the years to 
come. I hope we can maintain his interest, though I confess 
to certain misgivings. I am r*v. sure we have enough sexual 
neuroses for him. But if we have any at all, no doubt he will 
find them, and in due course celebrate them in a forthcoming 
political tract, perhaps in his sequel to the essay in which he 
gave to a world tormented by an inexact knowledge of the 
causes of tension between the Negro and the white races in 
the South, the long-awaited answer, namely that all Southern 
politics reflects the white man's resentment of the superior 
sexual potency of the Negro male. Mr. Mailer took his thesis 
easily the most endearing thing he has ever done to Mrs. 
Eleanor Roosevelt, to ask her benediction upon it. She re- 
plied that the thesis was 'liorrible," thus filling Mr. Mailer 
with such fierce delight that he has never ceased describing 
her reaction, commenting that he must be responsible for the 
very first use of that overwrought word by that lady in her 
long, and oh so talkative career. 

"Oh how we shall scarifyl" the dilettante Englishman re- 
ported exultantly to his friends a hundred years ago, on an- 
nouncing that he had finally put together the money with 
which to start a weekly magazine. How Mr. Mailer loves to 

* An opening statement, at a public debate with Norman Mailer, on **The 
Real Meaning of the American Right Wing." 



scarify! and how happy I am that he means to do so at the 
expense of the American Right. Not only do I not know any- 
one whose dismay is more fetchingly put down, I do not 
know anyone whose dismay I personally covet more; because 
it is clear from reading the works of Mr. Mailer that only 
demonstrations of human swinishness are truly pleasing to 
him, truly confirm his vision of a world gone square. Pleasant 
people, like those of us on the right, drive him mad, and 
leech his genius. Recently he has confessed that it is all he 
can do to stoke his anger nowadays, and he needs that anger 
sorely to fire his artistic furnace. The world, if it truly appre- 
ciates Norman Mailer, must be a cad; how else will he get 
to be President? For Mr. Mailer, to use his own phrase, has 
been "running for President for ten years." He means by that 
he wants the world to acknowledge him as the principal 
writer of our time. Numero uno, the unchallenged, unchal- 
lengeable matador of all time, the biggest bull killer since 
Theseus. And so those of you who wish him to be President 
must confirm his darkest thoughts and suspicions about you, 
so that he may give birth to that novel of outrage which, 
he gloats, will be, "if I can do it, an unpublishable work." 
Those few of us who are neither running for President, nor 
are needed to preserve the hideousness of this world so as to 
fatten Mr. Mailer's muse, are assigned by him the task of cul- 
tivating "the passion for socialism," which Mr. Mailer finds 
"the only meaning I can conceive in the lives of those who 
are not artists." 

Mr. Mailer is a socialist of sorts, but if socialism is not his 
first passion, that is only because, in his capacity as an artist, 
he is exempt from ideological servitude. The rest of the world 
is divided, as I say, in two groups. First the great majority 
of us, who compose that terrible world he wants to write a 
novel about so great so great that Marx and Freud them- 
selves would want to read it; for they would recognize in it, 
says Mr. Mailer, a work tLat "carries what they had to tell 
part of the way." Those others of us, with whom he is at 

Instructing Norman Mailer [73 

peace, will want to labor for socialism,, he tells us; we will 
"want a socialist world not because we have the conceit that 
men would thereby be more happy but because we feel the 
moral imperative in life itself to raise the human condition 
even if this should ultimately mean no more than that man's 
suffering has been lifted to a higher level, and human history 
has only progressed from melodrama, farce, and monstrosity, 
to tragedy itself." 

Not very long after writing that sentence, Mr. Mailer and 
a dozen others, including several other presidential candi- 
dates, signed an advertisement in papers throughout the 
country under the sponsorship of a group which called itself 
the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. "The witch-hunting 
press," the advertisement said in almost as many words, "is 
suggesting that Castro's great democratic revolution is con- 
taminated by Communism. That is hysterical and fascistic 
nonsense." One or two signers of that petition Kenneth 
Tynan, the English critic, was one were subsequently called 
before a congressional investigating committee and asked 
what they knew about the sponsorship of the Fair Play Com- 
mittee. To Mr. Mailer's eternal mortification, he was not 
called, thus feeding what Time magazine has identified as 
Norman Mailer's subpoena envy. Anyway, it transpired that 
the organizer of that committee was a paid agent of Fidel 
Castro, who even then was an unpaid agent of the Soviet 
Union. The insiders no doubt found it enormously amusing 
to be able to deploy with such ease some of the most con- 
ceited artists in the world behind the Communists' grisly 
little hoax. There is melodrama in a Norman Mailer rushing 
forward to thrust his vital frame between the American pub- 
lic and a true understanding of the march of events in Cuba; 
there is even farce in the easy victimization of Mr. Skeptic 
himself by a silent-screen ideological con man; and it is al- 
ways monstrous to argue aggressively the truth of the Big 
Lie. But I think the episode was le&s any one of these things 
than an act of tragedy, though without dire consequence for 


the players they are strikingly impenitent, insouciantbut 
for others. The people of Cuba are also writing a book that 
carries forward the ideas of Marx and Freud, a truly unpub- 
lishable book. Their suffering, for which Mr. Mailer bears a 
part of the moral responsibility, they must endure without 
the means to sublimate; they are not artists, who count their 
travail as a stepping stone to the presidency. 

Consider this. Last spring a middle-aged Cuban carpenter, 
known to persons I know, received notice at his three-room 
cottage on the outskirts of Havana late one afternoon that at 
nine the next morning his twelve-year-old son would be 
taken from him to be schooled in the Soviet Union during 
the next six years. The father, who had never concerned 
himself with politics, asked if his son might not, as an only 
child, be spared. The answer was no. The father spent the 
evening talking with his wife and sister, and on his knees 
praying. The next morning he opened the door to the escort 
who had come to fetch his son, put a bullet through his head, 
turned and shot his wife and child, and then blew out his 
own brains. 

That is not merely a horror story, nor merely a personal 
tragedy, any more than the story of Anne Frank was merely 
an isolated horror story, a personal tragedy. It is a part of a 
systemic tragedy, just as the annihilation camps in Ger- 
many and Poland were a part of a systemic tragedy, the trag- 
edy that arises not out of the workaday recognition of man's 
capacity for brutality, but out of the recognition that man's 
capacity for good is equal to the task of containing at least 
systemic horror, but that we are here frozen in inactivity 
while the horror spreads, leaping over continents and oceans 
and slithering up to our own shoreline, while those whose 
job it is to contain that horror grind out their diplomatic 
nothingness, and the nation's poets wallow in their own little 
sorrows. The American right wing, of whom I am merely 
one member, clumsily trying to say what Norman Mailer 
with his superior skills would be saying so very much better 

Instructing Norman Mailer [75 

if only he would raise his eyes from the world's genital 
glands, are trying to understand why; are trying to under- 
stand what is that philosophy of despair, and who was it 
that voted to make it the law of nations, that we should 
yield to it; the despair that teaches us to be impotent while 
fury strikes at the carpenter's home ninety miles from the 
greatest giant history ever bred, whose hands are held down 
by the Lilliputian solipsists of contemporary Liberalism. 

Cuba is a symbol of American Liberalism's failure to meet 
the challenges of the modern world. If such a thing as Castro 
Cuba were not possible, such a thing as the American right 
wing, as it exists today, would not be possible; as things are, 
the American right wing is necessary, and providential. 

Why are we now threatened with Castro? Why should 
Castro ever have arisen to threaten us? There is a question, 
I dare suggest, the Right alone has been asking. If the Presi- 
dent of the United States desired a clue to the answer to that 
question he might reflect on a scene enacted three and one 
half years ago at his alma mater. It was a brilliant spring 
evening, and Harvard had not found a hall large enough to 
hold the crowd. In the entire history of Harvard, it is said, 
there had not been such a demand for seats. The meeting 
was finally held out of doors. And there ten thousand mem- 
bers of the Harvard community teachers, students, adminis- 
trative officialsmet in high spirit to give Fidel Castro a 
thunderous, prolonged, standing ovation. 

That is why the United States has not been able to cope 
with Castro. ( Nor before him with Khrushchev, or Mao Tse- 
tung, or Stalin; or, for that matter, with Alger Hiss.) We 
have not understood. The most educated men in our midst 
and the most highly trained including those who trained 
the Kennedys have not been understanding the march of 
history, in which Castro is a minor player, though at the mo- 
ment great shafts of light converge on him to give him a 
spectacular brilliance. When Castro arrived at Harvard he 


had been five long, hectic, flamboyant months in power. He 
had kept the firing squads working day and night. He had 
reduced the courts to travesty; he had postponed democratic 
elections until a day infinitely distant; he had long since 
begun to speak stridently about world affairs in the distinc- 
tive accents of Bolshevism; he had insulted our ambassador; 
his radio stations and newspapers were pouring out their 
abuse of this country and its people. Things would become 
worse in the next months, and the more offensive Castro 
became, the madder we were all instructed to get at General 
Trujillo. Castro would not get such a reception at Harvard 
today. But today is too late. Today is when President Ken- 
nedy labors over the problem of how to contain Castro. Now, 
having waited so long, Mr. Kennedy must deal with the doc- 
trine promulgated by Khrushchev on September 11, 1962, 
which states that "the Soviet Union will consider any attempt 
on the part of the Western Hemisphere powers to extend 
their system to any portion of the Communist world as dan- 
gerous to our peace and safety" what we have identified at 
National Review as the Monroevski Doctrine. 

The point is that no one in power seems to know exactly 
how to deal with Castro. No one even knows how this coun- 
try is to deal, not with Castro he is merely a particularization 
on the trouble but with a much larger question. We don't 
know how to deal with Harvard University. If Harvard 
wasn't able to spot Castro for what he is earlier than it did, 
and show us how to cope with him, who can? And yet Har- 
vard, so dulled are its moral and intellectual reflexes, cheered, 
while Castro was accumulating the power to engross the 
full, if futile attention of President John F. Kennedy, B.S. 
Harvard 1940, LI. D. 1956, even while another of her illus- 
trious sons, Norman Mailer, B.A. 1943, was propagandizing 
for a Committee to Hasten the Unmolested Communization 
of Cuba. 

Of Cuba, the right-winger concludes, it can truly be said 
that she was betrayed. That melodramatic word is not being 

Instructing Norman Mailer [77 

used only by the founder of the John Birch Society. It is the 
word "la gran estafa" being used by most of Fidel Castro's 
closest former associates, who had thought they were strug- 
gling all these months in the Sierra Maestra for freedom, only 
to find that at a mysterious political level of whose existence 
they were not even aware, arrangements were being made 
to use their hunger for freedom and reform as the engine to 
create a slave-state. They, the earliest associates of Castro, 
were not really to blame. They fought bravely, and one must 
not fault the working soldiery for a lack of political sophis- 
tication. But there were others whose business it was to 
know who did not know, and their ignorance resulted in the 
betrayal of those men who followed Castro blindly, only to 
find themselves to have tunneled out of their cell into a tor- 
ture chamber. 

The United States was caught by surprise? The right wing 
suggests there are reasons why we were caught by surprise, 
and that we can never be done exploring what those reasons 
were, and how to avoid them in the future but all inquiries 
of this nature are denounced as McCarthyite. President Ken- 
nedy has told us the government was caught completely by 
surprise by the East Germans in August a year ago when the 
great wall was erected. I believe him however strange it is 
that so massive an accumulation of standby brick and mortar 
could have escaped even the notice of our CIA. The result 
of our failure to have anticipated that wall has been to freeze 
the dreams of one half of Germany and chill the hopes of free 
men everywhere. In Laos we were surprised by the militancy 
of the thrust from the north and the intransigence of the 
Laotian insurrectionary force; whereupon we yielded, mid- 
wifing a government whose archetype we saw in Czechoslo- 
vakia just after the war; we know, but we do not learn, that 
coalition governments tend to become Communist govern- 
ments; that who says A, must say B 

So it has gone, throughout the history of our engagement 
with the Communist world; and only the Right, and honor- 


able and courageous, but unrepresentative, members of the 
Left have had the compassion to raise their voices in sus- 
tained protest. "Never fear/* our leaders sought to pacify us 
in 1947. "We have established a policy of containment." On 
the fifteenth anniversary of the policy of containment we can 
peer ninety miles off the Florida coast into Soviet-built muz- 

It is said of the American right wing that we do not trust 
our leaders. Nothing could be closer to the truth. Our leaders 
are not Communists, or pro-Communists, and are not sus- 
pected of being so, notwithstanding the gleeful publicity 
which has been given to the aberrations of a single conspicu- 
ous member of the right wing, who made a series of state- 
ments which I would put up alongside some of the political 
commentary of Herbert Matthews, Gore Vidal, and Norman 
Mailer, as qualifying for the most foolish political prose pub- 
lished during 1961. The right wing, who are so often charged 
with wishing tp escape from reality, desire in fact to intro- 
duce reality to our ideologized brothers on the left; far from 
fleeing world responsibilities, we wish to acknowledge that 
the weight of the world's problems does in fact lie squarely 
on the shoulders of our leaders; and draw attention to the 
fact that these leaders have been losing the world war; in- 
deed, insofar as a great many human beings are personally 
concerned, have lost it already. If you were a Cuban who 
believed in freedom, would you trust the leaders of America? 
Or if you lived in East Berlin? Or Laos; or China, for that 
matter? Our leaders are not Communists but they have con- 
sistently failed to grasp the elementary logic of Communist 
nuclear blackmail, with the result that we have found our- 
selves without any strategy whatever not even enough 
strategy to enforce a doctrine we felt capable of enforcing 
one hundred and forty years ago. 

The implicit logic of those of our leaders who decline to 
fight for Cuba is the logic of defeat. Ultimately their argu- 

Instructing Norman Mailer [79 

ments must, by logical necessity, come down to surrender. 
And indeed this exactly is the naked word that is finally 
being used today by a few brave cowards. "For the first time 
in America/' Mr. Joseph Alsop wrote a year ago, "one or two 
voices are beginning to b6 heard, arguing that what ought 
to be done is to surrender." "Mr. Kennedy says Berlin is not 
negotiable" wrote Mr. John Crosby in his column. "Why 
isnt it? Why isrit anything negotiable rather than thermo- 
nuclear war? .... Are we going to wipe out two and a half 
billion years of slow biological improvement in a thermonu- 
clear war? Over what Berlin? I agree with Nehru that to go 
to war under any circumstances for anything at all in our 
world [presumably excepting Goa] in our time is utter ab- 
surdity I certainly think Berlin is negotiable and, as a 

matter of fact, Khrushchev is not even asking very much 

And after all, Communism . . . i s not that bad, and some day 
we're going to have to -face up to that. . . ." And Mr. Kenneth 
Tynan, the English critic, agrees. "Better Red than dead" 
he writes, "seems an obvious doctrine for anyone not con- 
sumed by a death-wish; I would rather live on my knees than 
die on my knees!' 

Well, assuming it is death toward which we are headed as 
a result of our determination to stay free, let it be said that 
Mr. Tynan would not need to die on his knees, but rather 
standing up. Which is how those of his ancestors died before 
Runnymede, at Agincourt and Hastings, at Dunkirk, who 
fought for the freedom of their descendants to exhibit their 
moral idiocy. Mr. Crosby advances as a substitute for the 
slogan "Give me liberty or give me death" the slogan: "John 
Crosby is too young to die" Let them live. There remain 
impenetrable corners of the Soviet Union where Messrs. 
Crosby and Tynan could store up their 2500 calories per day 
and remain absolutely free from the hounds of radioactivity, 
if not from the hounds of Bolshevism. But they will not go; 
they would have us all go; and they are right in suggesting 
that their logic, because it is in greater harmony with the 


inexplicit premises o American foreign policy over the years, 
should eventually prevail. It is at odds, after all, only with 
American official rhetoric, which is all windthe tiger Schles- 
inger typing out a thousand-word roar once a month for the 
White House Department on Releasing the Bellicose Ener- 
gies of the Masses. The implicit cogency of surrender will, 
they feel sure, overcome in due course the defiant rhetoric, 
and ease us into a course of conclusive appeasement. It is im- 
plied by Messrs. Crosby and Tynan that the right wing seeks 
a war. But in fact we seek to avoid war: and the surest way 
to avoid war is to assert our willingness to wage it, a paradox 
that surely is not so complex as to elude the understanding of 
professional students of the drama. The appeasers and col- 
laborators in our midst seek to pour water in our gunpowder, 
and lead into the muzzle of our cannon, and leave us defense- 
less in the face of the enemy's musketry. There is no licit use 
for a nuclear bomb, they are saying in effect, save possibly to 
drop a small one on the headquarters of the John Birch Soci- 
ety. But these are in fact the warmongers, for they whet the 
appetite of the enemy as surely as the stripteaser, by her 
progressive revelations, whets the appetite of the crowd. 
"However I survey the future,' 9 concludes Kenneth Tynan, 
"there seems to be nothing noble' 9 in dying. "I want my wife 
to have another child., and I want to see that child learn to 
walk" Those in the West of civilized mind and heart are 
engaged in trying to make just that possible, the birth of an- 
other child to Kenneth Tynan, always assuming he has left 
the virility to procreate one. 

Disintegration is what we conservatives see going on about 
us. Disintegration and acquiescence in it. The Liberal com- 
munity accepts calmly and fatalistically the march of events 
of the past years. History will remark that in 1945, victorious 
and omnipotent, the United States declined to secure for 
Poland the rights over which a great world war had broken 
out; and that a mere sixteen years laterwho says B, must 
say C we broke into panicked flight from the responsibili- 

Instructing Norman Mailer [81 

ties of the Monroe Doctrine, which as a fledgling republic we 
had hurled in the face of the omnipotent powers of the Old 
World one hundred and forty years ago, back when America, 
though not a great power, was a great nation. It is the gen- 
eral disintegration of a shared understanding of the meaning 
of the world and our place in it that made American Liberal- 
ism possible, and American conservatism inevitable. 

For the American Right is based on the assumption that 
however many things there are that we don't know, there are 
some things we do know; on the assumption that some ques- 
tions are closed, and that our survival as a nation depends 
on our acting bravely on those assumptions, without whose 
strength we are left sounding like Eisenhower, which is to 
say organically unintelligible; rhetoricizing like Kennedy, 
which is what comes of hiring Madison Atenue to make non- 
action act; or writing like Mailer, which is to write without 
beginning to know what one is, or what one wants" the 
criticism of Mailer made by his friend, my enemy, Gore 

To win this one it's going to take nerve, and take courage, 
and take a certain land of humility, the humility that makes 
man acknowledge the demands of duty. But it will take also 
a quiet and unshakable pride, the pride of knowing that with 
all its faults, with all its grossness, with all its appalling in- 
justices, great and small, we live here in the West under a 
small ray of light, while over there is blackness, total, im- 
penetrable. "You have to care about other people to share 
your perception with them" Norman Mailer has written. 
But nowadays, he confesses, "there are too many times when 
I no longer give a good goddamn for most of the human 
race" It is tempting to observe that nothing would better 
serve the ends of the goddamn human race than to persuade 
Mr. Mailer to neglect us; but I resist the temptation, and 
predict instead that those liberating perceptions that Mr. 
Mailer has been wrestling to formulate for lo these many 


years, those ideas that will catapult him to the presidency, 
are, many of them, like the purloined letter, lying about loose 
in the principles and premises, the organon, of the movement 
the Left finds it so fashionable to ridicule. 

There, in all that mess, he will, for instance, run into the 
concept of duty, which concept presupposes the validity of 
non-personalized standards. Why our great retreat from 
duty? Because our leaders are, when all is said and done, 
scared. "We will take Berlin'' Khrushchev said to an Ameri- 
can cabinet officer in September, "and you will do nothing 
about it." Why won't we do anything about it? Because we 
might get hurt as individuals, we might suffer; and so we 
rush into the great comforting bosom of unreality, who 
strokes our golden locks and tells us nothing will happen to 
us if only we will negotiate, keep sending lots of foreign aid to 
India, lots more sit-ins to Georgia, and lots more McCarthy- 
ites to Coventry. 

The flight from reality by those who are scared ... "I have 
only one life to give for my country," the Liberal says, "and 
my country isn't worth it." "Could you imagine yourself liv- 
ing happily in a Communist society?" the interviewer re- 
cently asked C. P. Snow, the Liberals' Renaissance Man. "I 
think so" answered Sir Charles. 

'If you had to, if somebody said you've got to live in 
America or live in Russia for the rest of your days, which 
would you choose?" "Well, that is very difficult; I think to be 
honest, I could be very happy in either of them" 

Members of the right wing could not. 

The true meaning of the American right wing, Mr. Mailer, 
is commitment, a commitment on the basis of which it be- 
comes possible to take measurements. That is true whether 
in respect of domestic policy or foreign policy. For those on 
the radical Left with Norman Mailer, and for so many Amer- 
icans on the moderate Left, the true meaning of our time is 
the loss of an operative set of values what one might call 
an expertise in living. For them, there is no ground wire, and 

Instructing Norman Mailer [83 

without a ground the voltage fluctuates wildly, wantonly, 
chasing after the immediate line of least resistance which, 
in Cuba, is Do Nothing. For those, like Norman Mailer, who 
have cut themselves off from the Great Tradition, one ob- 
serves that it is not truly important that a Laos has been 
dismembered, or that a great wall has gone up through Ber- 
lin, or that a Cuba has been Communized: Mailer's world is 
already convulsed, at a much higher level, and he has no ear 
for such trivia as these. For he views the world as groaning 
under the weight of unmanageable paradoxes, so that Eu- 
clidean formulations, Christian imperatives, Mosaic homilies 
become, all of them, simply irrelevant; worse, when taken 
seriously, these are the things that get in the way of his own 
absorption with himself, in the way of that apocalyptic or- 
gasm which he sees as the end objective of individual experi- 

How strange it is that all the Establishment's scholars, all 
the Establishment's men, have not in the last half dozen 
years written a half dozen paragraphs that truly probe the 
true meaning of the American right wing. They settle instead 
for frenzied, paranoid denunciations. Indeed the Left has 
discovered that the threat is really internal. There is no enor- 
mity too grotesque, or too humorless, to win their wide-eyed 
faith. I have seen some of them listen respectfully to the 
thesis that people in America belong to the right wing out 
of resentment over their failure to get their sons into Groton; 
and I remember the rumor that swept the highest counsels 
of the ADA and the Washington Post in 1954, that Senator 
McCarthy was accumulating an arsenal of machine guns and 
rifles in die cellar of the Senate Office Building. . . . And, of 
course, we all know that they continue to believe in Santa 

"Therefore they took them and beat them, and besmeared 
them with dirt, and put them into the cage, that they might 
be made a spectacle to all the men of the -fair. 9 ' And the 
charge was brought against them by the principal merchants 


of the city: "That they were enemies to and disturbers of 
their trade; that they had made commotions and divisions in 
the town!' Thus John Bunyan wrote about the town of 
Vanity, and how it greeted those in the city who came to buy 
the truth. 

"I am frankly all but ignorant of theology," Norman Mailer 
writes. If he wants to learn something about the true nature 
of the American right wing, I recommend to him the works 
of Presidents Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. 


AJDMTOAL STRAUSS, my invaluable colleagues, and 
good friends: 

I am proud beyond my powers to describe to be associated 
with so distinguished a list of sponsors. And they should be 
proud to be associated with National Review. Let me dispel 
immediately any suggestion that National Review is my 
creation, or that it depends in any serious way on my partici- 
pation in it. Nothing so preposterous can be maintained save 
possibly by speakers at a testimonial dinner. And even if it 
were so, cannot Leonardo da Vinci worship the Mona Lisa? 
I could not accept the honor of sharing a testimonial dinner 
at which I was required to suppress my enthusiasm for a 
journal that collects the talents of the men you have just 
heard, and others, in and out of this room. 

I do not suggest that all the sponsors share every opinion 
of every one of the editors of National Review: more likely 
not one of them shares all the opinions of all the editors of 
National Review. Certainly I do not. Indeed, anyone who did 
would be a schizophrenic: because some of the opinions of 
the editors conflict with one another, which is to be expected 
among serious and resourceful and inquisitive men. But we 
all share a few premises which are fundamental, and out of 
the tension of these disagreements the magazine generates, 
I think, a discernible vibrancy, the vibrancy, moreover, of 
a forward motion, not to be confused with what generates 

* Remarks at a dinner commemorating the fifth anniversary of National 
Review, presided over by Admiral Lewis Strauss. 



out of an attempt to conduct a dialectic between East and 
West, between Communism and truth. What generates from 
that dialectic is not truth or edification, but Pandit Nehru. 
And every time Mr. Nehru opens his mouth, he drives down 
another nail on the coffin lid of the great rationalist super- 
stition, defended today by the reactionaries who cluster about 
the American Civil Liberties Union, that the free exchange 
of opposite ideas midwives the truth. 

I make bold to say that the illustrious speakers of this din- 
ner can take pride in their identification with National Re- 
view because in electing to be sponsors, some of them make 
yet another act of courage. National Review is, as Admiral 
Strauss suggests, organically American, rooted in the nation's 
deepest traditions, and beyond that even, in the deepest 
traditions of Western civilization: but it is precisely the 
deepest roots of our civilization that are out of fashion. The 
blooms of our society, the explosion of material well-being, 
the intoxicating fragrance of the notion that all points of 
view are equally valid, except perhaps that point of view 
which says they are not these are still very modish, What is 
not fashionable are some of those certitudes and intuitions 
that most of us here in this room aim to serve such certi- 
tudes as that there is a religious base in life, and therefore a 
transhistorical meaning to the human experience. 

That freedom is necessary to the development of the 
human personality, 

That we know enough to know that the Communist ex- 
periment, the worst abuse of freedom in history, is a violent 
mutation on truth, a horrible caricature on justice; that the 
socialized state is to justice, order, and freedom what the 
Marquis de Sade is to love; and that it is our solemn responsi- 
bility not to become so jaded by the continuing barbarism 
as to become indifferent to its depravities, as French society 
during the late eighteenth century became indifferent to 
sexual depravity: not to come to believe, after the millionth 
political execution, that the millionth and one becomes mean- 

Remarks on a Fifth Anniversary [87 

ingless; not to come to believe that because there are eight 
hundred million slaves in the world, it will make no great 
difference if we add another forty or fifty thousand, who live, 
moreover, on a couple of desolated rocks just off the China 

National Review is not, of course, always engaged on such 
sublime pursuits. Not a week goes by that we do not need 
to call a point of order; or fit together the parts to show a 
current piece of humbuggery; or scrub down someone's shiny 
new proposal to expose the structure for what it isusually 
Liberal totemism: these are what one might call the house- 
keeping chores of conservatism. It may not make points in 
heaven to sigh, as James Burnham has done, that Mrs. Roose- 
velt viewed the world as one vast slum project. Or to suggest, 
as Priscilla Buckley did on hearing Mrs. Roosevelt say that 
she would never under any circumstances break a picket line, 
that the time has come for patriots to institute a 24-hour 
picket around Hyde Park. Or, after due deliberation, to sum- 
marize, as Morrie Ryskind did, the political credo of David 
Susskind as reducing to the proposition: "If we would only 
stop regarding the monstrous things Russia does as mon- 
strous, she would stop regarding us as monstrous." Or to com- 
ment as Willmoore Kendall did on last year's fiscal proposal 
of one of our sponsors: "Senator Byrd has proposed we cut 
the budget by five billion dollars. National Review stays and 
raises him five." Or, in a moment of total exasperation after 
finishing the then current issue of the New Republic., to write 
as Willmoore Kendall again did: "Gerald Johnson, colum- 
nist of the New Republic, wonders what a football would 
think of the game if a football could think. Very interesting, 
but less relevant than to ask, What would a New Republic 
reader think of the New Republic if a New Republic reader 
could think?" 

These are not, as I readily admit, advances upon the 
heavenly kingdom; but whereas man does not live by bread 
alone, he cannot live without it. 


The sponsors of this dinner and I speak here now not only 
of those whose names adorn this program, but of every one 
of you know that we are probably destined to live out our 
lives in something less than a totally harmonious relation- 
ship with our times. Three of our most conspicuous sponsors 
were during their careers, rebuffed: and always for the wrong 
reason. Herbert Hoover was cast aside by an impetuous elec- 
torate to make way for an insouciant social adventurer who 
moved gaily through history, knocking about the traditions 
of his own country, and giving away those of other peoples, 
to be refashioned in the crucible of Bolshevism. Douglas 
MacArthur never challenged the civil authority of Harry 
Truman to act as commander in chief. But the appalling mis- 
use of that power, at so great a cost in human life, led him 
publicly to state his misgivings, an act condemned by our 
Liberal spokesmen as insubordinate and inexcusable, an act 
in fact of transcendent patriotism which for failure to imitate, 
these same Liberals, just a few years earlier, had strung up a 
bunch of German and Japanese generals. Lewis Strauss was 
rejected by the Senate of the United States, and not one man 
in one thousand could tell you the reason why: and the 
thousandth would not give the right reason. Admiral Strauss' 
devotion to duty always singled him out as a misfit in a 
brawling political metropolis; but his enormous talents, his 
innocent integrity, caused our leaders to turn to him time 
and again to help with the nation's serious business. Mr. 
Strauss has a proud man's pride in his own standards, and 
before his inquisitors he calmly justified the major decisions 
of his career, refusing to make those easy but debasing con- 
cessions which more and more are required for admission 
into the entrenched political fraternity. 

I think it is fair to say these are conservative virtues: 
Mr. Hoover's refusal to throw aside tradition in panic; Gen- 
eral MacArthur's appeal to a higher reason than that which 
circumstance had imposed on the political order; Admiral 
Strauss' refusal to belie the standards that throughout his 

Remarks on a Fifth Anniversary [89 

life had informed his public performance. These are not 
qualities that lead a man, nowadays, to a safe position in the 
public eminence; certainly they are not qualities that lead 
a man to the White House. We are all of us in one sense out 
of spirit with history., and we are not due to feel those topical 
gratifications which persons less securely moored will feel 
as they are carried, exhilarated, in and out with the ebb and 
flow of events. But ours is the ultimate gratification, I be- 
lieve. I believe Mr. Hoover and General MacArthur and Ad- 
miral Strauss are happier men than they would be had they 
taken a different course when the tidal wave roared up be- 
fore them. And I expect they and all of you, my good and 
generous and devoted friends, must be happy, as I am, to 
know that for so long as it is mechanically possible, you have 
a journal, a continuing witness to those truths which ani- 
mated the birth of our country, and continue to animate our 

On the Edge of Politics 


WE ABE called upon, ladies and gentlemen, to be 
angry along with Kenneth Tynan, Englishman, critic, Angry 
Young Man; and sorrowful with him too, for he has been 
through an ordeal, which we are to understand is really our 
ordeal. None of us, I warrant, will succeed in feeling quite 
as sorry for him as he feels for himself: the point is we are 
to try, and editorial writers and columnists all over the coun- 
try are doing their best. 

The basic story Mr. Tynan was called before a congres- 
sional investigating committee last spring is uncomplicated, 
though the account of it by Mr. Tynan in the current 
Harpers is not. This is too bad, in a man who knows how to 
be succinct; but we are to assume that, overcome with 
righteous anger, he could not write simply, or directly, or 
accurately. Mr. Tynan is a young man of letters well enough 
known among the literati in England and because of his 
precocious effusions against the established order (for a 
while he played regular piccolo for John Osborne); but he 
left Anger, Inc., and branched out. He went to Spain and 
wrote bravely about brave bulls and matadors, and turned to 
drama, and drama criticism. 

In any event, Wolcott Gibbs of The New Yorker died, and 
the editors of The New Yorker invited Mr. Tynan, who was 
then doing criticisms for the London Observer., to take Gibbs' 
place for a year or two. He agreed, and in 1958 came over 
with his American wife and child and wrote excellent criti- 
cism which did noi^ unfortunately, exhaust his energies. 

., 93 


Sometime during the fall, a commercial British television 
company called Associated Television got in touch with 
Tynan and said I am paraphrasing Mr. Tynan's account in 
HarpersLook, old boy, let's do something to improve Brit- 
ish-U. S. relations. Over here we have the impression that in 
America everybody thinks alike, that the country is in the 
grip of an iron philistinism; but you and I, we know it's not 
true, so let's put on a 90-minute television showyou pro- 
duce it, we'll run it called "We Dissent," establishing once 
and for all that in America there are good, brave dissenters 
who don't go along with American Babbitry. 

To this enterprise Mr. Tynan energetically devoted him- 
self, emerging with a list of twenty-odd "lively American 
mavericks" whom he invited to speak "on the state of non- 
conformity in general and the nature of their own noncon- 
formity in particular." 

In the arts, he selected Norman Mailer (naturally), Jules 
Feiffer, Alexander King, Mort Sahl, and three Beats: Allen 
Ginsberg, Bob Kaufman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ken- 
neth Galbraith delivered his thesis on the Affluent Society, 
and G. Wright Mills his about the imminence of catastrophe 
unless we shake off the power elite. There were speeches by 
Norman Cousins, Robert Hutchins, and Norman Thomas. 

"America being by definition the greatest capitalist coun- 
try on earth, it followed that Socialism and dissent would fre- 
quently be allied. Accordingly, I also included one admitted 
member of the Communist Party (Arnold Johnson ) ; and four 
speakers reputedly linked with the extreme Left Clinton 
Jencks, of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers' Union; the 
Reverend Stephen Fritchman of the Unitarian Church; Dai- 
ton Trumbo, the Hollywood screen writer; and Alger Hiss. 
. . . After lengthy discussions ... we decided to exclude 
American dissenters of the extreme right, such as Senator 
Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Jr., and the Imperial 
Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Their participation, it was felt, 
might have caused British viewers to construe the program 

The Ordeal of Kenneth Tynan [95 

as a slanted piece of anti- American propaganda/' And that, 
one can see from the cast of characters selected after lengthy 
discussions, Mr. Tynan had no wish whatever to do. 

After the program was publicized, many Americans were 
indignant, and Mr. Tynan couldn't, just couldn't, understand 
why, he said. What was wrong? Had he not merely presented 
a package of American dissenters to prove that there are dis- 
senters in the United States, and that they are allowed to 
speak? Mr. Tynan does record that "the Messrs. Cousins, 
Hutchins, and Thomas wrote to me, protesting against the 
context in which I had placed them," and slides quickly on 
to other matters. He doesn't tell the fuller story, which I had 
from Norman Cousins last spring: namely, that when Cou- 
sins first heard about the release of the program in England 
he exploded sanely, to be sure. Producer Tynan had never 
intimated to him or to Mr. Hutchins or Mr. Thomas that he 
was to be sandwiched in among persons reputedly linked 
with the extreme Left like Dalton Trumbo and Alger Hiss. 
Each one was under the impression it was to be a short pro- 
gram presenting only himself: not a composite program 
made up of propaganda by Communists, howls from Gins- 
berg, and a little revolutionary nihilism from C. Wright Mills. 
The three requested that they be given equal time to do a 
show over the same station called "What We Like About 

But Mr. Tynan evidently thought there are grounds be- 
yond which dissent becomes intolerable, and he dismissed 
the complaints in a one-sentence letter. The matter is not 
dead; indeed, a legal suit is, one would think, in order. A 
public figure presumably has redress if, after the curtain is 
drawn, he finds that he is part of a freak show. 

But that was just one, tie minor of two episodes that led 
Mr. Tynan to Gdtterdammerung. Later in the spring a full- 
page advertisement appeared in several newspapers under 
the sponsorship of "The Fair Pky for Cuba Committee.*' 
Among the dozen or so signatures was Kenneth Tynan's. The 


ad stormed against the unwarrantedly bad press Castro had 
received in America. Cuba is not going Communist, the 
statement said such charges are smears, probably motivated 
by vested business interests. All Castro wants to do is "give 
Cuba back to the Cubans." "Having assured myself [how 
easily Mr. Tynan is assured the moment the drama leaves the 
stage!] that the factual points made in the ad were valid, I 
appended my autograph to the list/' says Mr. Tynan. Now 
that was six months before Fidel Castro came up here to 
smooch with Mr. Khrushchev and discuss their "common 
aims" and "common aspirations," to be sure. And then again 
maybe Mr. Tynan would sign an ad tomorrow saying Khru- 
shchev's intention is merely to give Russia back to the Rus- 
sians. Still, here was an ad even Eleanor Roosevelt had 
refused to sign. The signers were recruited from the fever 
swamps of the literary Left Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de 
Beauvoir, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, 
that kind of thing. 

It was shortly after that Mr. Tynan was hit by the thunder- 
bolt, which is the cause of the current sensation. 

He, an Englishman,, a freeman., a subject of Her Majesty 
the Queen, was told by a subpoena to get on down to Wash- 
ington and appear before an executive session of the Senate 
Internal Security Subcommittee. 

Mr. Tynan describes at considerable length the terror he 
felt at the summons. He felt "a land of nebulous chill," "Eco- 
nomic fears welled up." Suppose he was "publicly smeared?" 
"Would my American earnings be jeopardized?" Would he 
starve to death? And how could he even answer the commit- 
tee^ questions "without fatally compromising my integrity?" 
(He answered the questions.) He asked for a week's post- 
ponement and got it, so he had a good long night of the soul. 
"They were, without question, the strangest and shakiest 
eight days of my life." 

He called around and found to his dismay that it was per- 
fectly legal for the Senate committee to call him. He was on 

The Ordeal of Kenneth Tynan [97 

American soil, over which the American government con- 
tinues to have jurisdiction. There was nothing to do about it 
but go. He did, and wants us to know that not since Mano- 
lete went purposefully forward on his fateful encounter with 
Islero, was such an act of courage seen. 

So Rubashov went to Washington, whence he smuggled 
out to Harpers an account of his ordeal. He is forced to para- 
phrase his colloquy with his interpreters. "I should like to 
quote verbatim, but since I have been forbidden access to 
the transcript, I must resort to oratio obliqua." The rules of 
the Internal Security Subcommittee are that a witness ( or his 
lawyer) is entitled to access to the transcript of his testimony 
at any time. We must assume that the committee, if it for- 
bade Mr. Tynan the transcript, did so in blatant violation of 
its own rules. The other possibility is that Mr. Tynan never 
requested access to the transcript, perhaps because it is a 
little easier to parody an event if you are not burdened by 
the verbatim account; a little easier to be obliqua. 

Mr. Tynan was in Washington to answer questions about 
the Cuban advertisement, not the television program; but 
Senator Thomas Dodd, who had protested the distortions in 
the program in a speech in Congress, evidently took the op- 
portunity of Mr. Tynan's presence to ask whether it had been 
his intention in producing the show to hold the United States 
up to contempt and ridicule. Tynan's answer was, obviously, 
No: far from it, he intended to do the United States a -favor, 
as no doubt he also intended by publishing his piece in 
Harpers about his inquisition. Senator Dodd asked him how 
he had got in touch with the Communists who appeared on 
his program. He wrote them, said Tynan, having got their 
addresses mostly from the production staff assigned to him 
by Associated Television. The names of the staff, he said, 
appeared at the outset of the program, every one of them 
having received a credit line. Mr. Tynan's explanation was 
duly transcribed; and Mr. Tynan now reflects that he may 
well have ruined many careers. "Even the cutter of the show 


may have some very rough questions to answer should he 
ever apply for an American visa." (All this with an unflinch- 
ing, humorless solemnity!) 

Had he been paid for signing the Cuban advertisement? 
No. Was the advertisement paid for by the Cuban Govern- 
ment? He did not know. One assumes that the committee 
was trying to find out whether Castro has successfully 
launched a propaganda base in this country, and whether 
one of its techniques is to enlist the endorsements of gullible 
people. I myself should not in the least be surprised if in due 
course it is revealed that that is exactly what happened.* 
Tynan didn't put up the money for the ad, he saysand I 
believe him and you can bet your bottom dollar Norman 
Mailer didn't, nor Simone de Beauvoir. Who did? Cui bono? 
The point is, it is the proper business of a committee charged 
with the internal security to explore, and if necessary to rec- 
ommend, legislation designed to regulate the activities of 
agents of a foreign power. We do not know whether it will be 
established after an investigation, conducted confidentially, 
that the Fair Play for Cuba Committee was financed by the 
Cuban Government. If Tynan knows that it was not, he must 
have been a most useful witness, for the government needed 
precisely to know how he knew it was not. If Tynan does not 
know whether or not it is financed by Castro, then he can 
perhaps understand the committee's not knowing, and the 
committee's wanting to find out from anyone who might be 
closer to the Fair Play group what he knows about it. If the 
Fair Play for Cuba Committee is a Castro front, then that 
will probably be revealed in due course, and Mr. Tynan will 
presumably be grateful to Senator Dodd for relieving him of 
the further embarrassment of acting as an innocent mouth- 
piece for Cuban Communist propaganda. 

* A few months later, the subcommittee published documentary material 
proving that most of the money for the advertisements was paid in cash to 
the executive head of the committee by Castro's representive in the United 


The Ordeal of Kenneth Tynan [99 

But Mr. Tynan is not a reasoner, and his story goes on with 
its poetic effulgences. "Was I and it was here that my fear 
melted into a deep intestinal chuckle was I aware that 
President Eisenhower had made a speech in which he stated 
that the Castro regime was a menace to the stability of the 
Western hemisphere? No, I was not. And did I think myself 
justified in holding opinions that openly defied those of the 
President of the United States? I brooded . . . and then re- 
plied that I was English, and that I had been forming opin- 
ions all my life without worrying for a second whether or not 
they coincided with those of the President of the United 

Now if that second question was asked exactly as Mr. 
Tynan quoted it, the questioner, whoever he is, is fatuous 
indeed; fatuous, I should go so far as to say, beyond belief, 
or beyond my belief, at any rate. I do not have access to the 
transcript, but I will bet Mr. Tynan the entire orchestra sec- 
tion at the next performance of The Crucible that no one said 
that to him. What someone might have asked him and if no 
one did, I raise the point is whether Tynan thinks it correct 
to come to America and pummel its citizens with his political 
views on essentially domestic matters. (I know of no Amer- 
icans who took out ads in the English papers instructing the 
British Government how to cope with Cyprus.) There is no 
law against it, and should be none: it is a matter of taste; and 
though the laws of taste are uncodified, they exist, and bind 
lesser men than drama critics. 

On this point a little more needs to be said. "As I under- 
stand it," Mr. Tynan lectured the committee after his testi- 
mony had been taken, "the function of a congressional com- 
mittee is to gather information on the basis of which new 
legislation may be recommended. [His understanding is in- 

"I cannot help finding it anomalous that a foreign' visitor 
should be compelled to contribute to the legislative processes 


of a country not his own I am modest enough to feel that 

the making of American law is none of my business." 

But Mr. Tynan feels the making of American foreign policy 
with respect to Cuba is his business, does he not? He signed 
an ad intended for publication in the United States, hectoring 
United States citizens to change their views on Cuba. He 
was not modest about that. He undertakes to put together a 
rogues' gallery of Americans, plus a few shills, with the in- 
tention of painting a picture of America for his own country- 
men so grotesque as to be unrecognizable and which hypo- 
thetically could, if taken seriously, change the policy among 
nations. Let us not deny him the right to do these things; but 
let him not deny our government the right to take elementary 
steps designed to find out from him what he knows, if any- 
thing, that might cast light on the movements of the enemy, 
and perhaps to pass Judgment, to the extent a congressional 
committee can, on whether he is himself an enemy, or merely 
a fool. 

My own impression is that he is the latter, and I do not 
think it is the business of a congressional investigating com- 
mittee to expose the foolishness of people just for the sake 
of it. On this point the Internal Security Subcommittee pre- 
sumably agrees. For it did not breathe a word of its interview 
with Mr. Tynan. The quailing, cowering, angry young man 
who writes of his sleepless nights, his forfeited serenity, his 
sentenced virtue, his imminent poverty, blew the whole 
thing all by himself, and having done his best to write his 
experience into the annals of human courage, he turned a 
few hundred dollars out of a complaisant American maga- 
zine, and carried on the great and lucrative English tradition 
of charging the United States a handsome sum of money for 
telling us how ugly we are. The Imperial Wizard and I 
resent that. 


For twenty years [Adam Clayton] Powett [Jr.] has been 
one of the most controversial and newsworthy figures in pub- 
lic life in New York City. . . . His eloquent articulation of his 
convictions on racial equality and his personal dynamism 
have won him hordes of idolators and hordes of detractors. 

One Mans Freedom, p. 207 

AMONG Adam Clayton Powell, Jr/s eloquent articula- 
tions of his convictions on racial equality: 

On America's entry into World War II: "[As long as the 
war was] yellow against yellow, white against Hack, and 
white against white [the U. S. stayed out] . . . Pearl Harbor, 
however, was yellow against white, and the war came im- 
mediately with the race baiters roaring their approval" 

On racial equality and the Soviet Union: "Negro-Ameri- 
cans admire and feel close to the Soviet Union. We are im- 
pressed by Russia's complete abolition of racial discrimina- 
tion, by the job, health and other forms of social security 
which the USSR guarantees to all of its nearly 200 million 
people, and by its consistent fight to destroy fascism and free 
the colonial peoples. Negroes, therefore, generally avoid 
the anti-Soviet traps set by the imperialist war-makers/' 

. . , And a few examples of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr/s per- 
sonal dynamism. On Martin Dies: "The sooner [Dies] is 
buried, the better. He is one of the few people in history 
whose body has begun to stink before it died. . . . There is 
only one place fit for him to live and that's Hitler's outhouse. 
We demand that the President have him arrested as an en>- 


emy agent The death of Dies is just as important as the 

death of Hitler/' 

On the Taft-Hartley Act: "This bill has been called a bill 

of rights for labor It is a bill of rights and lefts under 

the belt for labor, not only under the belt but in the back, in 
good old foreign fascist style." 

On the Republican Party of Thomas E. Dewey: "Dewey 
is now the Crown Head and indebted servant of the worst 
anti- American, isolationist reactionaries ever to come on the 
scene. . . . Dewey and those who voted to support him in the 
race for the presidency hate Negroes, democracy, the Presi- 
dent, and progress. They are the fullest expression of South- 
ern Bourbon crackerocracy and domestic fascism." 

Such eloquence and personal dynamism do indeed have a 
way of discouraging incipient friendships, but Edward Ben- 
nett Williams, once he becomes your advocate that is to 
say, when your personal dynamism gets you into trouble 
with the law stays your advocate, well beyond the require- 
ments of professional duty. Witness his handling of the case 
of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in his current best seller ( One 
Mans Freedom, Atheneum, $5.95), in which he has suc- 
ceeded in causing most of the reviewers to believe he treats 
us as though we were members of a jury, putty in his master- 
ful hands that here is a profound book on the sorry condi- 
tion of civil liberties and civil rights. A book, moreover, 
which he uniquely was able to write because of the vastness 
of his experience and the largeness of his libertarian heart. 
These last are available at one thousand dollars a day, which 
is a highish fee, but rendered le^s painful by the knowledge 
that your case may be a chapter in a future book by Ed 
Williams, and from there, the proximate cause of a historical, 
social or juridical reform. Your case will be dealt with gently. 
If Edward Bennett Williams had defended Adolf Eichmann, 
he would no doubt have introduced him by saying: "Adolf 
Eichmann's steadfast devotion to his own ideas on contro- 
versial ethnic issues earned him a horde of admirers and a 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [103 

horde of detractors." Whereupon he would proceed, as he 
has done with Powell, et al., to move in on the deficiencies in 
the legal case against Eichmann. 

And who is to say there were none? What does it matter 
how Williams characterizes his clients? Are the points he 
raises concerning necessary reforms in congressional investi- 
gating procedures, in federal and state laws governing crimi- 
nal procedures, are they not valid or invalid criticisms irre- 
spective of whether Williams' clients are, or are not, angels 
or sinners? The answer to this question is not obvious. As it 
stands, the demands of justice are cheek-to-cheek against the 
rights of the individual, and when one hears it proposed that 
extensive radical reforms be instituted (Williams would, for 
instance, deny to Congress the right to exercise its informing 
function), one properly inquires about the balance of the 
reformer, about his capacity to make sound judgments; one 
asks whether his documentation is responsibly set forth: 
whether, in a word, it is credible. One Mans Freedom, which 
has overnight become a sacred book for the civil libertines, 
deals with a number of people and their cases, each one illus- 
trating the need for a separate reform. About most of Mr. 
Williams' clients I have only an impression (though, e.g., Td 
sooner trust my impression that Hoffa is a hood than I would 
Williams' "proof " that he isn't) . I know a good deal about the 
circumstances behind the difficulties of two of them. One is 
the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. And if Mr. Williams" 
treatment of the Powell case is typical of either his capacity 
for the truth or of his access to it, then his book should be 
dismissed for what it seems to me to be: a venture in cyni- 
cism, or a venture in helpless confusion. In either case, it 
should not, at least not by itself, be permitted to unbalance 
the scales of justice. 


Mr. Williams calls his chapter on Powell "Fingers on the 
Scales of Justice.** The fingers, it transpires, are my very own, 


for it is I, says Williams, who, in the pages of National Re- 
view, whipped up a grand jury into an unnatural frenzy by 
making "irresponsible charges." The result was the indict- 
ment for income tax evasion of the Rev. Adam Clayton 
Powell, Jr. 

The case of Adam Powell is too complex to detail, even 
though there is a purpose in doing so now that Williams has 
conscripted the corpse to march in his parade testifying to 
the existing flaws in criminal procedural arrangements. Here 
it is, without unrolling the winding sheet to anything like its 
full length. 

Says Williams in his book: 

1) Adam Clayton Powell's tax affairs were being looked 
into by a grand jury. The jury recessed "without returning an 
indictment. The only proper explanation for this was that 
there was not sufficient evidence on which to indict." 2) 
National Review, having received a lurid account of the case 
from former Assistant U. S. Attorney Thomas A. Bolan, 
cranked up a successful campaign to incite the jury to have 
another and vindictive look at Powell's income tax returns. 

3) National Review charged that the grand jury had been 
derailed most probably because the Eisenhower Administra- 
tion was repaying Powell the favor done it when Powell an- 
nounced in October 1956 that all Negroes should vote for 
Eisenhower. "Of course, the absurdity of the charge was 
quickly demonstrable from the fact that the Powell grand 
jury was not even empaneled until after the election." And 

4) Powell was not convicted, and the case against him was 
ultimately dropped conclusive testimony to the flimsiness 
of the original charges. 

Advocate Williams declines to inform his readers that: 
1 ) The grand jury looking into the affairs of Adam Powell 
had been only temporarily recessed in March of 1957, having 
been interrupted in mid-investigation to permit Assistant 
Attorney Bolan, in charge of presenting the evidence to the 
grand jury, to dispose of an emergency matter assigned to 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [105 

him by the U. S. Attorney. After Bolan had completed his 
work and was ready to return to the Powell case, he was ad- 
vised by his immediate superior that New York had had 
word from Washington that the Powell case was "too hot," 
and they were to let it slide. Williams does not mention that 
the professional tax investigators looking into the case gave 
the opinion to their superiors that already enough material 
had been accumulated to warrant indictment, nor does he 
record their expressed belief that continued research would 
yield even more incriminating evidence. He does not men- 
tion that the grand jury was never consulted about the deci- 
sion to suspend its sessions even though the grand jury had 
the exclusive authority to decide whether or not sufficient 
information had been developed to warrant an indictment. 
He does not mention that during the 18-month interval when 
the grand jury was paralyzed the statute of limitations crept 
in to immunize Powell against any prosecution for the year 
1950, around which a formidable preliminary case had been 
built. He does not mention that the grand jury, when it did 
reconvene, was so indignant over its abuse by the U. S. At- 
torney that it went so far as to consider voting a presentment 
against the U. S. Attorney's office for its conduct of the case. 
He does not mention that the U. S. Attorney assured the 
grand jury, when it reconvened, that the long interval had 
been spent in "evaluating" the case, and that it had all along 
been his intention to recall the grand jury and ask for an 
indictment which what do you know? here he was asking 
for. (It makes no difference that no one believed the U. S. 
Attorney; his was the public story, and is a part of the public 
history of the case, which Williams was ostensibly relating.) 
2) Mr. Williams is correct in implying that the grand jury 
would probably not have reconvened but for 'National Re- 
view's prodding. Although grand juries are technically auton- 
omous, in practice they rely on the leadership of the U. S. 
Attorneys, The grand jury reached for its latent powers on 
being reminded it had them; and, in reconvening, weighed 


the evidence and presumably (they too are innocent until 
proved guilty) agreed with the investigators for the Treasury 
Department and with Assistant Attorney Bolan and with 
the reactivated U. S. Attorney; and they voted for indict- 
ment. Williams does not mention that it was a member of the 
grand jury, no less, who requested that National Review 
send copies of its expose to each member; that a separate 
grand jury investigated whether in doing so the editor of 
National Review had violated a law, and declined to return 
an indictment; that Williams' plea that the indictment 
against Powell be dropped on the grounds that it had been 
illegally obtained through the agitations of National Review 
was yawned out of court by two different judges. 

3) In striking a pose of outraged innocence at the mere 
suggestion that the Eisenhower Administration might have 
promised Powell to cooperate in the matter of his pending 
tax investigation, Williams evidently found it necessary not 
to mention any of the circumstantial data that induced 
worldly observers to accept that hypothesis. 

On July 3, 1956, the U. S. Attorney in New York announced 
publicly that a full-scale investigation into Powell's tax af- 
fairs would be launched immediately. The investigation had 
been catalyzed by evidence that grew out of successive in- 
dictments and trials of four of Mr. Powell's close professional 
associates. Three of his secretaries had been indicted, and 
one had already been convicted. The testimony heavily im- 
plicated Powell. One secretary was on trial at that moment. 

As late as October 6, Powell was telling his congregation 
that no Negro could conscientiously "campaign for Steven- 
son or Eisenhower/' Five days later, on October 11, having 
been called to testify at his secretary's trial, Powell walked in 
and out of the White House, called a press conference on the 
spot, and urged all Negroes to vote for Eisenhower, 

This was a political bombshell. Powell threw himself into 
the cause of Eisenhower's re-election. Exhibiting what Mr. 
Williams has described as his eloquent and dynamic fight for 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [107 

racial equality, he denounced Stevenson as "a slave" to 
"America's fifth column of native fascists/' and said that 
Negroes who voted for him were "traitors to their race." The 
New York Times reported that Governor Harriman had 
found the coincidence "strange" that Powell should strike 
out on so unexpected a course while the Eisenhower Admin- 
istration was looking into his tax returns. 

It is true that the grand jury was not empaneled until 
December, a month after the election; but another grand 
jury had been looking into his affairs for months. Nor does 
Williams consider the scandal that would have resulted from 
failing to call up a jury after the announcement had been 
publicly made that a thorough investigation was under way. 
Williams does not allude to Bolan's statements, made under 
oath, to the effect that he had been told to drop the case be- 
cause Powell was "too hot." He does not mention that in 1960 
a columnist wrote a detailed three-column expose, based on 
the testimony of one of Powell's disaffected confidants, de- 
scribing the exact nature of the deal made between one of 
Eisenhower's lieutenants and Adam Powell: a series that was 
not challenged, either by Eisenhower's lieutenant or by Pow- 
ell. He does not mention that Senator Williams of Delaware 
referred to the situation as demanding congressional investi- 
gation. He does not allude at all to the general concurrence 
that the whole thing smelled, e.g., the Richmond Times-Dis- 
patch's summation: 

Now, we believe and it is simply an act of faith in a man 
that Dwight Eisenhower individually had nothing on earth 
to do with the Department of Justice's decision, in March of 
1957, to suppress its case against Adam Clayton Powell. It is 
unthinkable, in the light of Eisenhower's whole career, that 
he dropped so much as a wink or a nudge or a hint that 
Powell's help of the autumn should thus be repaid in the 
spring. But the harsh, unyielding fact is that somebody, at 
the level of Herbert Brownell or on down the line, gave the 
word in March of 1957 that the heat was off; and realities 


of politics are such that the prosecution of a Negro congress- 
man from New York City is not handled in a casual fashion. 
The question must be asked, and Mr. Eisenhower's admin- 
istration stands under a cloud until it is answered: Who gave 
the word, and why? 

We do not know. We know only that it was given. When 
National Review succeeded in alerting the grand jury to 
what was going on, the jury met, heard the evidence (though 
not by any means all of it there was no time, with the jury's 
life about to expire, to chase down enticing leads; moreover, 
as we have seen, other incriminating evidence had been de- 
fused by the statute of limitations ) ; and Adam Powell was 
indicted on several counts of filing fraudulent income tax 
returns. I remember Murray Kempton's writing me at the 
tiijie to chide National Review for having upset the only 
1956 Republican campaign promise that had remained intact 
eighteen months after the election! 

It remains to be said 4) that the case against Adam Powell 
was ultimately dropped. That is an utterly irrelevant datum. 
The broader question at issue is whether a grand jury was 
tampered with, and the narrower question is whether Ed- 
ward Williams, in making the case for a congeries of legal 
and congressional reforms, is to be trusted. As far as Powell is 
concerned, it is appropriate to observe that it is no more true 
that all men who are found not guilty are in fact not guilty, 
than it is true that all men who are found guilty are guilty. 
(As National Review suggested some time ago, the question 
needs to be raised whether the law has yet been devised 
which one cannot break provided one can subsequently se- 
cure the help of Edward Bennett Williams. ) Adam Powell 
is legally a free man and that is as it should be; it does not 
follow automatically that he was not culpable. The jury heard 
evidence that, among other things, Powell had deducted 
$2,536 for round-trip train fares to Washington in the course 
of a single year during which he had been abroad for four 
months, to justify which would have required him to travel 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [109 

from New York to Washington practically every day in- 
cluding Sundays. He had taken a deduction, the prosecution 
charged, of $737 for clerical raiment which had, apparently, 
cost him only $2.37. Etc., etc. Williams' courtroom strategy 
was to dig up all kinds of deductible expenses Powell and 
his wife could have got away with deducting but didn't de- 
duct, and he found here and there overstatements of income. 
Internal Revenue permits an overstatement of income to can- 
cel out excessive deductions dollar for dollar, a projection of 
the theory that if you save one man from drowning, you are 
entitled to drown one man so be it; the law is an ass, and let's 
keep it that way. Ten members of the jury voted to let Pow- 
ell go. Two members thought he was guilty. Powell's prose- 
cutor tried to amend a disastrously constructed Bill of Par- 
ticulars which he had not drawn up, but which he was sad- 
dled with conceivably the defective legal workmanship was 
the final honorable effort to redeem a political commitment 
but it was too late, and the government dropped the case, 
which is, after all, presumably what it had wanted to do ever 
since October 11, 1956. 

It had been, Edward Bennett Williams concludes, a "long, 
expensive and politically damaging trial/' It was certainly 
long, running over six weeks. And no one is better qualified 
than Mr. Williams to know that it was expensive. In fact, it 
was not politically damaging. True, for a while it looked as 
though Mr. Powell was slipping politically. After he was in- 
dicted, the Democratic Party tried to shelve him: not be- 
cause he had been indicted, but because he had come out 
for Eisenhower in 1956, The National Association for the 
Advancement of Colored People joined the hordes of de- 
tractors upset by Mr. Powell's eloquent articulation of his 
convictions on racial equality, and denounced him in the 
summer of 1958 as a "racialist." The New Jork Times called 
him "the most extreme racist in Congress." But in no time at 
all, absolutely no time at all, Powell had brought the Demo- 


cratic Party in Harlem to its knees, taken over one of the 
most vital committee chairmanships in Congress, and found 
himself guest of honor at a testimonial dinner two months 
after Kennedy's election at which two cabinet members, 
Messrs. Goldberg and Ribicoff, sang Mr. Powell's praises. 
The Democrats are so much better at this kind of thing than 
Republicans are and the testimonial dinner went off without 
a hitch, which is more than can be said of the attempt to fix 
the grand jury.* 


Edward Bennett Williams has gone a long way since the 
day when, as a total stranger, he walked into the office of 
Senator Joe McCarthy and volunteered to sue, on McCar- 
thy's behalf, Drew Pearson free of charge. Granted, any 
patriotic lawyer should be willing to sue Drew Pearson free 
of charge, but to appear as McCarthy's counselor during 
those days meant notoriety, which Williams clearly sought, 
but also the possibility in Williams' case the certainty, con- 
sidering that he had become intimate with the McCarthy 
household and happily frequented right-wing social events 
of public identification as a McCarthyite; which presumably 
Williams did not want. Mrs. McCarthy recalls that she never 
believed, nor was led to believe, that Ed Williams subscribed 
to the mission of her husband, though the two were close 
friends. Others remember differently. Williams called me 
over the telephone in the summer of 1954 and asked my 
assistance in preparing the defense of McCarthy against the 
Watkins Committee, giving me clearly to understand that 
I should give this help at whatever personal inconvenience 
because the cause of McCarthy was bigger than both of us. 
I suggested that he secure the help of Brent Bozell, co-author 

* Sequel: One week after this review was published, the Internal Revenue 
Department revealed that it had served Mr. Powell a bill for forty thousand 
dollars, representing taxes not paid, and penalties for fraudulent returns, 
during the late 40's. The statute of limitations prevented criminal prosecution. 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [111 

of the book that had drawn me to Williams' attention ( Mc- 
Carthy and His Enemies) and, moreover, a practicing attor- 
ney. Williams accepted the suggestion gleefully, called Bozell 
in San Francisco where he was practicing, and persuaded 
him to go to Washington. 

Bozell and Williams differed on several tactical matters 
having to do with the defense of McCarthy, but Bozell never 
doubted that Williams truly believed in McCarthy's crusade, 
which those of us who encouraged it, with however many 
specific reservations, understood as involving, essentially, the 
vigorous use of the legislative arm to require enforcement of 
a vigorous security program weighted in favor of the govern- 
ment against the loyalty risk. Three years later, Bozell hap- 
pened by a church hall on a Sunday evening and heard a 
golden voice denouncing congressional investigating com- 
mittees, the Smith Act, the House Committee on Un-Ameri- 
can Activities, upholding the Watkins case and the Jenkins 
case and the Nelson case and the whole cluster of Supreme 
Court decisions whose effect had been to paralyze the inter- 
nal security program. 

Bozell looked in, and there was his old colleague, Edward 
Bennett Williams, warning direfully against the perils of 
which their old friend McCarthy was the eponym. Fair 
enough. A man can change his mind. And anyway Ed Wil- 
liams takes elaborate pains in the current volume to make the 
case for purely professional relationships, from which it is no 
more to be inferred that client and lawyer are ideological or 
felonious soulmates, than it is to be inferred that a doctor 
who pulls out a Democratic appendix is himself a Democrat. 
The question spontaneously arises, to be sure, why Edward 
Bennett Williams does not get up at some other church hall 
and declaim about the evils of Hoffaism (those evils too have 
been documented); or against the evils of Goldfineism 
(surely the attempt by a five-percenter to colonize the White 
House is a subject worthy of his attention?) ; or the evils of 


such as Costello (nationwide crime is also a problem); or, 
indeed, against the tendency of such as Adam Clayton Pow- 
ell, Jr., in the name of freedom for the Negro, to develop a 
very special racism of their own. 

This imbalance in Edward Bennett Williams, which can 
be understood as the occupational opportunism of a lawyer 
on the make ( McCarthyism is a dirtier word in the circles he 
moves in than Hoffaism), becomes a matter of general con- 
cern when said lawyer lights on the scene as a legal states- 
man. Ed Williams has become the premier advocate of a 
wide series of reforms that aim at shoring up the positions of 
what one might call the defendant class. One Mans Freedom 
comes with a benediction, cautiously worded but no less 
surprising, from Arthur Krock, an outstanding advocate of 
the rights of Congress and of the individual states (Williams 
has little use for Congress, and one gathers he never even 
heard of the individual states). "The obligation of a lawyer 
to help assure that justice under due process of law is the 
right of anyone accused, however he may have trans- 
gressed," says Krock, "has never been more impressively set 
forth than in this book. But it is also a fascinating story of 
major political and social contentions, adding in several sur- 
prising particulars to the public record" and, as we have 
seen, leaving out several surprising particulars from the pub- 
lic record. And Morris Ernst, who is widely identified with 
the cause of civil liberties, notes that "this book contributes 
more to the understanding of freedom in our republic than 
anything else written in recent years." 

That is a most questionable contention. I do not see that 
the book contributes anything at all to the understanding of 
freedom in our republic; indeed, I would go so far as to pre- 
dict that if all of Mr. Williams' recommendations were car- 
ried out, there would be precious little freedom left in our 
republic; in fact, it is doubtful if there would be a republic 
at all. 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [113 


The statistics on the continuing rise in the crime rate have 
been hitting us so insistently now for so many years that we 
seem, as a nation, to have become completely inured to them. 
We deal with crime as fatalistically as the English came to 
deal with the nightly bombing raids during the dark days of 
World War II: let's hope the blighters don't hit us, but if 
they do, well, that's life, and there'll always be an England. 

So the situation continues to grow worse, to the point 
where Mr. Eric Sevareid can complain, with only the normal 
amount of exaggeration, that in New York City the churches 
are empty at night, where once they were heavily attended, 
because the New Yorker will not grope his way back from 
church to home through unlighted streets for fear that, by 
the law of averages, his turn will have come to cross the furi- 
ous path of some hoodlum or rat pack or progressively edu- 
cated teen-ager. 

Edward Bennett Williams is typical of our most vocal 
social reformers who, not understanding the circumstances, 
elect to spend most of their time criticizing, not the lengths 
to which organized crime, random crime, and quasi-legal 
crime have taken over the nation, but the unconstitutional, 
illegal, and reprehensible lengths to which our law enforce- 
ment officials and our congressional investigating committees 
have now and then attempted to go in order to bring the law- 
breakers to justice. 

Mr. Williams, who has made a great career of sticking out 
his tongue, in behalf of such as Jimmy Hoffa, Frank Costeflo, 
Dave Beck, and Bernard Goldfine, at those who have tried 
to put them behind bars, devotes himself entirely to criti- 
cizing police and congressional practices that have aimed, 
however clumsily, at doing something about the crime rate, 
His remonstrances are directed not at the Communists who 
seek to undermine our system, or at the monopoly leaders 
who rule by cracking the pates of the opposition, or at the 


hoodlums who rob and prey and rape, or at the manipulators 
who try to corrupt whole legislatures, or at the fifth colum- 
nists who carry the Fifth Amendment like an aegis and smirk 
at the pathetic attempts of the petty bourgeoisie to bring 
them to justice: Mr. Williams pleads for action to deprive 
the Congress of the right to exercise its traditional power to 
expose crime and malfeasance, to forbid the police from tap- 
ping the telephones of putative criminals, to restrain detec- 
tives from interrogating suspects. . . . 

To the extent Mr. Williams is saying that this practice or 
that, here and there used by a policeman, is unlawful, he 
makes a good enough point: policemen, of all people, should 
not act unlawfully. But to the extent that he ( or the Ameri- 
can Civil Liberties Union) concentrates exclusively on the 
rights of malefactors or alleged malefactors, he is acting in- 
judiciously. Jimmy Hoffa has rights, to be sure. But so do 
individual truckers, so do harassed businessmen, so do the 
individual members of Hoffa's union, over whom he rules 
like a despot. The answer to Jimmy Hoffa's overweening 
power would seem to be clear, though it may be true that 
there is not in the whole of Congress the political courage to 
give that answer (and this is not Williams* fault) : the labor 
union monopolies must be broken up. Congress has been 
agonizing over for years the problem of the Communist con- 
spiracy; yet every time a corrective piece of legislation is 
offered, the Williamses and the ACLUers weep over lost 
liberties. The answer to juvenile delinquents is not clear, nor 
is the answer clear how to deal with the Frank Costellos and 
the great underworld syndicates that appear to have taken 
over whole cities. If Edward Williams is to contribute to 
the understanding of freedom in our republic, he must con- 
tribute to an understanding of how to deal with contem- 
porary threats to the freedom of the republic, and this he 
does not do. He feels free to defend a Hoffa or a Costello 
quite properly: everyone is entitled to legal representation- 
why does he not, as a citizen actively concerned about pre- 

The Uneocamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [115 

serving the rights of defendants, also devote himself, in his 
capacity as a citizen, to the problem of how to cope with the 
criminals who are closing in on our society? As it stands now, 
known members of Murder Incorporated can walk through 
Central Park at night with safety, but nuns cannot. I do not 
see that Mr. Williams has any ideas on how to solve the prob- 
lem of which that irony is a symbol; or, for that matter, that 
he shows any awareness of the problem. 

Granted, it will not be easy to come up with appropriate 
solutions. But should one not come up with something other 
than an obsessive concern for the suspect or the defendant? 
The columnist John Crosby made a semi-cogent criticism a 
year or so ago in an open letter to J. Edgar Hoover saying 
in effect: "Okay, so the crime rate is higher than ever. Why 
don't you, Mr. Hoover, do something about it?" Mr. Crosby's 
complaint is at least superficially appealing: if the crime 
rate is up, doesn't one naturally blame the law enforcers? 

What Crosby does not mention is that the political wing of 
which he is a member, and whose spokesman on criminal 
and related affairs Edward Williams has become, reliably 
opposes, whether thoughtfully or unthoughtfully, every 
measure, ranging from bills allowing New York teachers to 
spank impossible students, to bills imposing the death pen- 
alty on atomic saboteurs every measure designed to sharpen 
the domestic discipline, and enforce the rights of the citi- 
zenry. But Crosby has something there: his very criticisms 
tend to reflect the failure of Mr. Hoover publicly to identify 
himself with, and dramatize the need for, reforms aimed at 
limiting crime. Why doesn't Mr. Hoover use his enormous 
prestige to recommend to Congress specific revisions in the 
law ( granted, he has made a start in the proposed wire-tap- 
ping bill advanced by Attorney General Kennedy) which 
might make it possible to outwit the underworld? Any such 
recommendations must reflect a continuing concern for the 
rights of the individual. But so also must they reflect the 
great advantages that our scientific age and our urban con- 


centrations have opened up for automated crime. It is now 
possible for Boss Trap in New York to direct-dial Killer Joe 
in Los Angeles, and instruct him to deposit Recalcitrant 
Merchant Jones, neatly tucked into the trunk of his car, into 
Super-Duper GM Car-Junk Model 778, and wheel nothing, 
not a trace is left of Jones. And if Detective Smith happens 
to have bugged Boss Trap's telephone, all he and Killer Joe 
have to do is call Edward Bennett Williams, who will lucu- 
brate over constitutional liberties; and off they will go, to 
continue their crusade to make the world safe from Recalci- 
trant Merchants. 

Victims and intended victims have rights, too. Somebody 
should write a book about them. 


Edward Bennett Williams' success in winning acclamation 
as an architect of freedom and justice presumably derives 
from the use of the same skills through which he caused 
jurors to look at Jimmy Hoffa and Adam Clayton Powell and 
mistake them for the Cherubim and the Seraphim. Williams 
treats his readers as though they were members of a jury, 
and though we miss his celebrated voice and gestures, on the 
other hand we are not bothered by the frequent interrup- 
tions of the prosecutor. Williams' techniques are various. The 
first is the highly tendentious rendering of the factual situa- 
tion. We have seen how he deployed the facts in the case of 
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. It is so elsewhere in the book. 
"There were no outcries/' he sighs, "from the Liberals for the 
unhappy victims of the [Kefauver] investigation and then 
it was the Liberals turn, and the public was almost indifer- 
ent to the violation of their rights. Next came organized 
labor! 9 Here is history making with verve: at a stroke we are 
informed, as confidently as that America was discovered by 
Christopher Columbus, that the congressional investigations 
of the 1950's were aimed not at Communists and pro-Com- 
munists and fellow travelers, but at Liberals! And then, cov- 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [117 

ering his bets, he rushes forward to a yet more dazzling piece 
of historical impudence: the scrupulously, agonizingly fair 
investigation by Senator McClellan's anti-rackets committee 
should have brought "outcries" in behalf of the "unhappy 
victims" (instead it brought an attempt at remedial legisla- 
tion in the Landram-Griffin-Kennedy Bill). 

"In May, 1958, a Cleveland industrialist named Cyrus 
Eaton made bold to criticize the FBI over a national televi- 
sion network . . ." "A Cleveland industrialist." That is Mr. 
Williams, introducing to the jury a man who happens to be 
a Communist Party-liner in international affairs, an adulator 
of Nikita Khrushchev, who on the occasion in question had 
attacked the FBI with the distinctive ferocity of a Com- 
munist Party hatchetman. The flotsam and jetsam of Wil- 
liams' arguments wash up on the shores of reason in irrecon- 
cilable pieces, but on he goes, unperturbed. On adjoining 
pages he will tell us, 1 ) : "I very much doubt whether any 
juror ever saw [Joe Louis] in that packed courtroom, seated, 
and they always left before any spectator was permitted to 
leave his seat! 9 And 2) : "AH of the jurors later attested that 
[Joe Louis'] appearance at the trial was meaningless insofar 
as the outcome was concerned' 9 How could the jurors attest 
to the impact Joe Louis had on them, if they did not even 
know he was there? 

An extension of the technique of proceeding as though 
the other side did not exist is the dogmatic generality. Wil- 
liams would rather asseverate about the rights and duties of 
Congress than get a guilty man acquitted. "What Congress 
may not do is to conduct an investigation for a purpose totally 
unrelated to its constitutional duties. It may not, for example., 
conduct investigations to . . . influence opinion" One would 
think that Williams was speaking as the last survivor of the 
Constitutional Convention. He does not bother to relate that 
this ill-defined stricture on the limits of congressional power 
contradicts the general understanding of the powers of Con- 
gress, the practice of one hundred and seventy years, and 


the burden of the authoritative analysis of such constitu- 
tional and parliamentarian commentators as Walter Bagehot, 
Woodrow Wilson, Edward Corwin, and Hugo Black (yes, 
Hugo Black). Williams' Amendment to the Constitution is 
sustained by a single obiter dictum of the Warren Court (in 
Watkins), from which, incidentally, the Court has since 
backed away (in Barenbhtt and Wilkinson). "Too many 
persons have forgotten that the Fifth Amendment is a citadel 
of Liberty, guaranteeing far more than immunity from com- 
pulsory self-incrimination" "Too many persons" includes the 
Supreme Court in 1908 (Twining v. New York) "[the Fifth 
Amendment is a] useful principle [rather than] a funda- 
mental right"; and, in 1937, Justice Cardozo, backed up by 
Justices Hughes, Brandeis, Stone, Roberts, and Black, who 
said "Justice . . . would not perish if the accused were sub- 
jected to orderly inquiry" (Palko v. Connecticut). 

Yet Williams must guard against giving the jury the im- 
pression that he is unreasonable. A concession to the prose- 
cution, every now and then, is psychologically vital. Williams 
has been arguing for the right of a government employee 
against whom secret information has been received to cross- 
examine the secret informant. There are those, including 
J. Edgar Hoover, who have repeatedly maintained that to ask 
the government to surface, in every relevant security case, 
an agent who might have spent years penetrating the Party 
is to levy on the nation's security an impossible price merely 
to effect the discreet removal of a government employee 
from a position to which he has, in any case, no legal right. 

But hark the reasonableness of the man. "Of course,, it is 
possible to conjure up situations in which the disclosure of 
the informant's identity could do serious damage to national 
security. Where this is true, and where it is further true that 
the continuation of the accused in a sensitive job would 
equally damage national security 9 (a fast one right there, of 
the kind no one is around to yell OTtfection! to. The question 
in security cases is not whether the government employee 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [119 

would damage the national security, but whether there are 
reasonable grounds for believing he might damage it). "[In 
such cases] there is basis for exception to the over-all rule. 
But the truth of these facts should be certified in writing by 
the cabinet officer or agency chief of the affected department 
or agency. [Fair enough, provided "would" is changed to 
"might."] He should further certify to his belief in the cred- 
ibility of the information involved. Only upon such certifica- 
tion should the hearing board in question be empowered to 
make a ruling depriving the accused of confrontation and 
cross-examination. [Here we go.] And this decision should 
be subject to full review by a board of appeals and, finally, 
full judicial review by courts which have available the con- 
cealed information that was before the board [!]." 

There is not a security official in the United States who 
would consider the procedures recommended by Williams as 
anything short of ludicrous. (And I suspect Williams knows 
it. ) Let the FBI give the name of a secret informant to the 
members and staff of a federal court, to the members and 
staff of a court of appeals, to the members and staff of the 
Supreme Court, to the defendant's counsel (how is the de- 
fendant's counsel otherwise going to impeach the witness's 
credibility, which is the purpose of the whole procedure?) 
and the "secret" informant will be ready to publish his 

But see how reasonable Williams appears? 

And finally, there is Williams' rhetoric. It is the rhetoric 
of personal righteousness, with just that touch of Sunday- 
suit pomposity which solemnizes, and numbs. "I was greatly 
moved by the plight of this man." "I entered my appearance 
in the case on Icardfs behalf." (Did you ever enter your 
appearance on behalf of anyone? Shame! ) "I asked the head 
of the Department of Justice to afford to us, in the interest 
of justice, the benefits of the government's investigation?* 


"My sense of fair play was so offended by all this . . .* 
The pomposity becomes insufferable when the eagle really 
spreads his wings, drowning out all thought in the clatter of 
his cliches. "It would be a tragic paradox if we should sur- 
render any part of our heritage in the name of this [anti- 
Communist] effort, for we should then have done to our- 
selves from within what we fear most from without" Horse- 
feathers. We are in some kind of a war, and that war means 
things like generals, bomb shelters, CIA's, kidnappings, atom 
bombs, tapped telephones, conscription, supergovernment, 
secret diplomacy, bribes, subornations, seductions, GI's get- 
ting shot in South Vietnam, Smith Acts to bear down on 
those in our midst who pass on the ammunition to our 
enemies: and all this precisely in order to secure the nation 
from the total loss of freedom. "In 1954 the Supreme Court 
of the United States in a great, broad-gauged humanitarian 
decision held that American citizens who are required to pay 
the same taxes, pledge allegiance to the same -flag, give obedi- 
ence to the same laws, fight the same wars and die in the 
same battles might go to the same schools" Does that mean 
they can all go to Groton? "Fortunately we have a President 
who believes that nine decades is long enough for the Negro 
to wait to vote and that the best way to end Negro disen- 
franchisement in the South is the quickest way." Fortunately, 
we have a President who believes nothing of the sort. The 
quickest way to get the vote for all the Negroes of the South 
is presumably to shoot every white man who tries to get in 
the Negroes' way. But that is not the best way. "We are 
racing on at an ever accelerating pace to maintain a peace 
through mutual terror, a peace that is no peace at all." Who 
says it isn't? Whatever the peace's deficiencies, Edward 
Williams would not be at peace to defend criminals but for 
the success we have had in terrorizing the Soviet Union to 
the point of checking her mad aggressiveness. 

But the man cannot, or will not, think, except about how 
to win the favor of juries and law school deans. He shows 

The Unexamined Side of Edward Bennett Williams [121 

evidence of absolutely genuine mealy-mindedness. Toward 
the end of his book he makes an idealistic quantum jump of 
dazzling dimensions which, typically, he introduces with a 
pomposity. "I have long been convinced that the time has 
come to make a bold, dramatic new try at realizing mans 
ancient hope of world peace through law." He wants us to 
can the Connally Amendment and, side by side with the 
Soviet Union, to submit our differences to an international 
court of law. "Idealistic folly?" he asks the jury rhetorically. 
"What is the alternative?" 

Waal, the alternative is not to repeal the Connally Amend- 
ment. And not to submit national problems of life and death 
to anyone's authority other than our own, for so long at least 
as it is clear that the Soviet Union would use the court only 
insofar as it furthered world revolution, ignore it insofar as 
it didn't. 

Ah, but Williams has a revelation up his sleeve for us 
skeptics. He has had a long talk with Mr. Platon D. Morozov, 
the Soviet Union's top legal representative at the United 
Nations, and Morozov confided to Williams that he too be- 
lieves that the Communists should make "unqualified declara- 
tions recognizing the compulsory jurisdiction of the court"! 
What are we waiting for? Morozov's for it! 

The last thing we need is to be ruled over by an inter- 
national court while we live in a world with the Soviet Union 
in it. It would be quite unsettling enough to contemplate 
living under a world court assuming the Soviet Union sank 
into the seas of the kind that would have the blessing of 
Edward Bennett Williams. What kind of courts does he go 
in for? He tells us earlier in the book "We [in America] are 
blessed in the 196Q*s ivtih the greatest Supreme Court in 

If that's the case, this eloquent articulator of his convic- 
tion on racial equality will vote for the worst Supreme Court 
in history, thanks very much; and, seventy times seven times, 
against the repeal of the Connally Amendment 


WHAT, I am asked, is the conservatives' solution to 
the race problem in the South? I answer: There is no present 
solution to it. Such an answer appalls. It brings to mind, to 
move from tragedy to flippancy, the cartoon of the farmer 
leaning on his pitchfork and replying to the motorist: "Come 
to think of it, mister, I don't think you can get to Glens Falls 
from here." There are those who approach all problems as 
though they involved merely gettkJg an automobile from here 
to there: there is always a road. There are others who know 
that some problems are insoluble. These last are for the most 
part conservatives; and I am here to defend them. 

Let us begin by stressing that no matter how convinced 
a people may be of the wrongness of an existing situation, 
it does not follow that the people should be prepared to 
resort to whatever means may be necessary to attempt to 
make that situation right. That may sound obvious the end 
does not justify any means; but when we examine some of 
the drastic proposals that are being put forward with the end 
of securing the rights of the Negro (e.g., a constitutional 
amendment depriving the individual states of their right to 
set up voting qualifications), the time has come to reiterate 
the obvious. We acknowledge, for instance, that it is wrong 
to drive at excessive speeds; but no state in the union seems 
prepared to impose a heavier penalty on the speeder than 
the automatic suspension of his license for thirty days. There 
would be less speeding, and hence less violent slaughter 
the two figures, the experts inform us, are inextricably related 


Can We Desegregate, Hesto Presto? [123 

if speeders were packed off to jail for a week. Even so, 
notwithstanding the established correlation between fast 
driving and aborted lives, we shrink from so drastic a penalty; 
and the speeding, and the deaths, go on. 

Let us take the word of the predominating school of social 
scientists and stipulate that segregation is the cause of per- 
sonality disturbances. And mark thisnot only in the Negro, 
but also in the white. The argument is not new; it has often 
been used against capital and even corporal punishment. 
It is not only the victim who is damaged, psychiatrists report, 
but also the executioner, in whom latent sadistic impulses are 
dangerously encouraged. No one who has contemplated a 
man brandishing a fiery cross and preaching hatred needs 
help from social science to know that the race problem has 
debasing effects on black and white alike. 

Assume all this to be true. Assume, also, that the legal and 
political power is wholly at the disposal of the society to 
effect its point of view in the South. Assume, in other words, 
that Brown v. Board of Education and the supporting deci- 
sions of the Supreme Court deconstitutionalized segregated 
public schooling beyond the point of argument. Then assume 
that the raw power necessary to enforce that decision is 
available to the present Administration, and that the will of 
the nation is such as to insure that Congress will supply 
power where power is lacking. Should the federal govern- 
ment then proceed? 

The list of sanctions available to the government is endless. 
The economic power of the federal government has in our 
time reached the point where it cannot be denied; cannot, in 
fact, be defied. If Congress can seriously entertain the ques- 
tion whether to spend money to aid public schooling in any 
state whose public schools are segregated, why can't Con- 
gress debate the question whether it is prepared to spend 
money for road building in a segregated state? Or for un- 
employment? Or for farmers' subsidies? Already the Attorney 
General has hinted he is considering (for purely punitive 


reasons) recommending to the President the removal of our 
large military installations from segregated areas. 

In a word, the federal government is in a position to visit 
intolerable economic sanctions against the defiant state. Not 
to mention the government's arsenal of legal weapons. Why 
cannot the Congress (assuming always a purposive mood on 
the subject of segregation) pass laws increasing the penalties 
for those held guilty of contempt of court in a certain cate- 
gory of cases? And why can't the courts rule as Professor 
Auerbach of the University of Wisconsin has recommended 
that any state which, having fought to the end of the legal 
road, sets out to close down its public schools rather than 
integrate them, be forbidden to do so on the grounds that 
such action, under such circumstances, becomes not the free 
exercise of the state's power, but an act of defiance of a 
federal court? By such reasoning the federal government 
could take over the operation of the schools. 

The crucial question arises: Will the government of the 
United States move in such a fashion? The answer is: Prob- 
ably not; for the reason that, along the way, the ideological 
stamina would very likely give out, as the public contem- 
plated the consequences of an assault of such magnitude on 
a whole region. Another question is: Should the government 
of the United States take that kind of action to end segrega- 
tion? The answer to that is, in my judgment: No, most def- 
initely not. 

"You know, the world is hard enough and people is evil 
enough without all the time looking for it and stirring it up 
and making it worse/* says Leona, in a novel by the eloquent, 
tormented Negro writer James Baldwin, who celebrates his 
bitterness against the white community mostly in journals of 
the far political Left What would be accomplished by turn- 
ing the legislative, judicial, and executive resources of this 
country over to a crash program of integration? Let us sup- 
pose the program were so successful as to make South Caro- 
lina like New York City. Recently a distinguished New York 

Can We Desegregate, Hesto Presto? [125 

Negro told the audience of the television program Open End 
that he did not know three white people in all of New York 
with whom he felt genuinely comfortable, such is the preva- 
lence of prejudice even in this cosmopolitan center. Louis 
Lomax may be more sensitive, and hence more bitter, than 
the average New York Negro, and so unrepresentative of the 
state of Negro serenity in the North; but then, too, Dr. Mar- 
tin Luther King is more sensitive, and so more bitter, than 
the average Southern Negro, and hence unqualified as a 
litmus of the Southern Negro's discontent. But only one of 
the other Negro guests on the program challenged as extreme 
that remarkable testament to race relations in the city under 
which the fires of the melting pot burn hottest. 

The deep disturbances isolated by the social scientists are 
not, I think, of the kind that are removed by integrating the 
waiting rooms and the schools. It has even been revealed 
(Villanoua Law Review, Fall, 1960) that the very tests cited 
by the Supreme Court in Brown as evidence that Southern 
Negro children were suffering personality damage, when 
administered in the North yielded not merely similar results, 
but results that seemed to indicate a greater psychic disturb- 
ance in integrated Northern Negroes than in segregated 
Southern Negroes! I believe that the forms of segregation, 
which so much engross us at the moment and which alone 
are within the reach of the law to alter, are of tertiary impor- 
tance, and of transitory nature; and under the circumstances 
the question arises even more urgently: Should we resort to 
convulsive measures that do violence to the traditions of our 
system in order to remove the forms of segregation in the 
South? If the results were predictably and unambiguously 
successful, the case might be made persuasively. If a clean 
stroke through the tissue of American mores could reach 
through to the cancer, forever to extirpate it, then one might 
say, in due gravity: Let us operate. But when the results are 
thus ambiguous? Use the federal power to slash through the 
warp and woof of society in pursuit of a social ideal which 


was never realized even under the clement circumstances of 
a Chicago or a New York or a Philadelphia? 

I say no. A conservative is seldom disposed to use the 
federal government as the sword of social justice, for the 
sword is generally two-edged ("The Government can only do 
something for the people in proportion as it can do something 
to the people," Jefferson said). If it is doubtful just what 
enduring benefits the Southern Negro would receive from 
the intervention of government on the scale needed to, say, 
integrate the schools in South Carolina, it is less doubtful 
what the consequences of interposition would be to the ideal 
of local government and the sense of community, ideals 
which I am not ready to abandon, not even to kill Jim Crow, 

What, meanwhile, are the Negroes actually losing that 
they would not lose if the government took over in the South? 
One thing alone, I think, and that is the institutional face of 
segregation. That is important; but it is in the last analysis 
only a form. What matters is the substance of segregation. 
The kind of familiarity that might lessen racial consciousness 
is outside the power of the government to effect I would 
even argue that it is outside the power of the government 
to accelerate. J. Kenneth Galbraith tells us that the ultimate 
enemy of myth is circumstance, and I think he is correct. 
If it is true that the separation of the races on account of 
color is nonrational, then circumstance will in due course 
break down segregation. When it becomes self-evident that 
biological, intellectual, cultural, and psychic similarities 
among the races render social separation capricious and 
atavistic, then the myths will begin to fade, as they have 
done in respect of the Irish, the Italians, the Jews; then inte- 
gration will come the right kind of integration. But mean- 
while there are differences between the races which surely 
will not be denied by an organization explicitly devoted to 
the advancement of colored people. The Negro community 
must advance, and is advancing. The Reverend William 
Sloane Coffin of Yale University, returning from his whirl 

Can We Desegregate, Hesto Presto? [127 

with the Freedom Riders, rejected the request of Mr. Robert 
Kennedy that the Riders withdraw to let the situation cool 
off with the words: "The Negroes have been waiting for 
ninety years." Mr. Coffin spoke nonsense, and showed scant 
respect for the productive labors, material and spiritual, of 
three generations of Negroes. A sociologist at Brooklyn Col- 
lege only a few weeks before had observed that never in 
the history of nations has a racial minority advanced so fast 
as the Negroes have done in America. How far will they go 
on to advance? To the point where social separation will 

I do not know, but I hope that circumstance will usher in 
that day, and that when the Negroes have finally realized 
their long dream of attaining to the status of the white man, 
the white man will still be free; and that depends, in part, 
on the moderation of those whose inclination it is to build 
a superstate that will give them Instant Integration. 


THERE is a sameness, both dreadful and reassuring, in 
the statements one is pelted with these days on the aims of 
American education. John Barrymore said he could induce 
a severe case of delirium tremens by reckoning the amount 
of whiskey he had drunk during his lifetime and imagining it 
all in a single glass (about the size of a small movie theater) 
poised for him to start all over again. The young college 
president, freshly in office, must pale at the thought of the 
miles and miles of cliches that stand between him and that 
final baccalaureate address, twenty years hence, when he will 
say: essentially the same thing. 

What is reassuring about that sameness is that it happens 
to be crowding out the talk-talk-talk of the educational in- 
strumentalists. It becomes harder and harder to find anyone 
of standing who will defend the theory of progressive educa- 
tion, let alone the enormities committed in its name. The 
sameness that sometimes appalls us, then, is in one respect at 
least a healthy sameness; it is the beginning of a negative con- 
sensus among the thinking people on an important matter, 
a protest against the dehumanization of the human species 
by that school of educational thought, or non-thought, which 
for years has been insisting that the supreme challenge of 
education is to cultivate a cheerful, mindless adjustment to 
one's social and material environment. 

The fight, at the first phase, has been tough, and there is 
tough fighting, at the second phase, left to do. I date the 
victorious end of the first phase of the war between the 


A Reply to Robert Hutchins [129 

forces of classical education and those of "progressive" edu- 
cation in 1957 with the appearance in Life magazine of a 
massive editorial barrage against what we now call the edu- 
cationists. When Time., Inc. takes up a big issue in a big way, 
it is safe to assume that the sensitive ear of Mr. Luce has 
registered profound seismographic rumblings. Others had, 
beginning years before, pioneered. They had delivered a total 
critique of progressive education which disposed thinking 
people to listen. Mr. Robert Hutchins, Mr. Mortimer Smith, 
Mr. Russell Kirk, to name perhaps the three most insistent 
and eloquent critics of progressive education, had made it 
safe for Life magazine to speak out on the issue. 

The fight that remains unwon is that of actually taking 
power. It is one thing to persuade the leaders of the commu- 
nity that a local high school has no business teaching hotel 
management and community hygiene in place of English and 
history. It is one thing to mock Columbia Teachers College 
for accepting as a doctoral dissertation, as it recently did, a 
paper on "The Cooperative Selection of School Furniture to 
Serve the Kindergarten Through Third Grade Program in 
the Garden City Public Schools." It is another actually to step 
in and dispossess the zealous administrators of non-education, 
actually shoo them out, and begin the process of re-educa- 
tion. That, alas, is a political fight, not an intellectual fight, 
and fresh and differently trained and equipped troops are 
needed to wage it. 

Will they step forward? Here and there are hopeful signs. 
But final victory is not by any means guaranteed. It is com- 
forting to tell ourselves that in a free society no fraud can 
survive for very long after it is publicly discredited; but alas, 
that is not in fact the case as witness, for instance, socialism, 
which is left without serious defenders, but whose forms 
encroach on us year after year. The fetishes of the witch doc- 
tor may be shown to be made of nothing more than dogs* 
teeth and colored inkbut still the people will go to him, or 
tolerate him; as today, the people continue to tolerate, and 


to patronize, schools and colleges and universities which treat 
their children like half -rational biological mechanisms, whose 
highest ambition in life is to develop in such fashion as to 
render glad the rotarian heart in Anytown, U.S.A. 

But why do we weary, in turn, even of the relatively en- 
lightened statements on the aims of education that are being 
made by those who reject progressive education? Why does 
the very eloquent president of UCLA sound like the very 
eloquent president of Sarah Lawrence who sounds like the 
very eloquent president of Swarthmore whoalas sounds, 
allowing for differences in syntactical resourcefulness, like an 
hour at the hearthside of a cliche factory? 

The answer has to do with the incompleteness of their 
position. No matter how pleasing the fugue as it rolls along, 
it denies the final satisfaction until it is resolved and all the 
individualistic though harmonious melodic strands come to- 
gether to establish their essential unity. The critique of pro- 
gressive education absolutely establishes many things we 
are finally airborne: but we never land. 

I think that for the most part our educators I have specif- 
ically in mind Dr. Robert Hutchins while they know what 
education is not, do not know for sure what education is. 

The principal reason why they do not know and cannot 
know is because they are restrained from seeking educational 
ends, from following through, by a mystique (academic free- 
dom) which is all promises, but no delivery. Perpetually 
hovering, as it does, it remains in its own highfalutin way as 
anti-intellectual, as nihilistic, as the assumptions of progres- 
sive education. 

What are the educational aims of the good guys? All of us 
are familiar with the litany. I shall not quote representative 
educational manifestoes. I am frankly fearful of the anesthe- 
tizing effect of the prose, some of which is so exultantly 
sonorous as to cause the listener to drop his critical guard. 
(Any modern educator worth his salt will know how, with- 

A Reply to Robert Hutchins [131 

out saying anything very much at all, to evoke in us a sort 
of dreamy and inspired confidence that we are listening to 
a man who is engaged in charging up the mountain of Excel- 
lence, hotly pursued by his students,..) I shall attempt 
instead an unembellished yet scrupulously faithful condensa- 
tion of the aims of education as put forward by the typical 
spokesman for liberal education, as follows: 

1. A student should acquire the tools of learning (e.g., he 
should learn to write, to reason, to memorize, to synthesize). 
Incontestable, I should say. 

2. He should learn about the intellectual and historical 
experiences of others (mainly through a study of history, 
philosophy and literature ) . Again, incontestable. 

3. He should learn something about the major intellectual 
specialties (something, e.g., about science, language, politi- 
cal economy). Incontestable. And we come to the purpose 
of education: 

4. The purpose of all of which is twofold, a) to enable 
him to exercise, in behalf of himself, his fullest intellectual 
powers, and to cause him to want to do so. And b) to cause 
him, in behalf of others, to contribute to his community the 
fruit of his endowments. Incontestable. 

But consider how many questions are begged by assum- 
ing that 1-2-3 will lead to 4; and that 4 sufficiently defines 
the aims of education. 

We are, to be sure, agreed on an important postulate, 
namely, that for personal and social reasons it is desirable 
that human beings exercise their distinctively human facul- 
ties (principally the power to reason and to apprehend 
beauty). What is it about the aims of education, as com- 
monly set down, that leaves us with a sense of incomplete- 
ness? The kind of incompleteness which leads, ultimately, 
to frustration and boredom? 

Certainly we are not told how to account for the profound 
conflicts that sunder the educated world. If education is a 
civilizing experience, then why are we not entitled to corre- 


late education and civilization? Yet it does not work out that 
way, does it? Educators know, or are expected to know, 
writes Dr. Herbert Lowry, "how vital colleges and univer- 
sities are in giving leading ideas to ... national life all down 
the line. They know that education is eventually a kind of 
dynamite." Which exploded in our day, in various parts of 
the world, in socialism, fascism, and communism. Dr. I. L. 
Kandel has conceded the lamentable truth that "education is 
the most Fascist aspect of the Fascist Revolution, the most 
Communist feature of the Communist Revolution, and the 
most Nazi expression of the National Socialist Revolution." 

The correlation, in other words, doesn't automatically hold. 
It is not safe to say: Knowledge is wisdom. In terms of sheer 
knowledge, sheer book learning, Lenin and Trotsky had few 
peers. Yet it would greatly have relieved the world had their 
teachers refrained from cultivating the minds, and hence the 
powers, of these men. 

It may be argued that in worrying about Communists and 
Nazis and Fascists one is worrying about aberrants intellec- 
tual mutations, who should never be allowed to distract us 
from the formulation of general laws. Let us suppose that is 
what they are and move over to a part of the world governed 
by more conventional political and philosophical ideas, and 
put down in London. 

In London there is Bertrand Russell. Lord Russell knows 
more about more things than, quite possibly, anyone else 
now living. What has it done for him? Or for us? Apart from 
his technical philosophical contributions of specialized sig- 
nificance, what has he done to ease or direct into productive 
channels the labors of society, or to refine the understanding? 
What has he done for himself? He had more than the two 
educations once suggested by Mr. Hutchins as requisite to 
marital felicity: and he has had five wives. He has explicitly 
rejected the Western institution of monogamy, and conven- 
tional notions of sexual virtue, in theory and practice; he has 
taken a very wide range of iconoclastic positions over the past 

A Reply to Robert Hutchins [133 

thirty years, challenging at the root the basic Western con- 
victions on: theology, ethics, the institution of the family. 
And now, in the plenitude of his wisdom, he advises us to 
yield to the Soviet Union to yield to barbarism, rather than 
fight to save our institutions. "The civilized world will be 
destroyed!" The Great Scholar trembles, repeating the words 
that undermined the Roman will to resist their barbarians 
fifteen hundred years ago, a moral failure vividly described 
in one of Russell's own books. Was it the aim of the educa- 
tion of Bertrand Russell that he should learn in order to so 
instruct us? To be sure, there is a perverse consistency in his 
advice. He has devoted his life to challenging the validity of 
Western convictions it follows they are not worth defending 
at the risk of war. 

We put down again, this time at Cambridge, Massachu- 
setts, and wander about the halls, listening for the wisdom 
that true education will make us privy to. There, until 
recently, was Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, insisting 
that the premises of our economic organization are out- 
moded, are merely sustained by the "conventional wisdom," 
which he, though not, alas, many others, has penetrated. 
Perhaps he is right, for he is an educated man, who did not 
while away his high school hours on driving lessons and life 
adjustment courses but if one travels to the University of 
Chicago, and listens there to Professor Friedrich Hayek, at 
the very least as well educated a man, one is told that the 
way of Galbraith is the way to 1) serfdom, and 2) poverty. 
Mr, Hutchins, a highly educated man, even by his own 
exacting standards, terms nonsensical some of the views of 
Dr. James Conant, a highly educated man by any man's 
standards. Sidney Hook, a highly educated man, tells us we 
must emancipate ourselves from the thrall of religion, and 
Reinhold Niebuhr, a highly educated man, tells us that 
through religion we find truth, freedom, and, who knows, 
perhaps even salvation. 

What is to be done about all those modern problems we 


hear so much about, ranging from peacemaking to proliferat- 
ing slums? To meet those problems we need, we keep on 
being told, bold solutions; revised, renewed, upgraded, mod- 
ernized thought, of the land that will occur only to a society 
that has been to schools of the kind Dr. Hutchins would 
operate. But what are these solutions behind which a truly 
educated public could be expected to rally? Why not ask 
those men who have had the kind of education of which 
Dr. Hutchins approves for a preview? What do they want 
the nation to do? Well, of course, in asking that question, we 
have turned on Babel. Everybody is speaking, and in differ- 
ent tongues. There are schools of thought, to be sure. One, 
addressing itself to one area of concern, says the time is 
ended when major social problems can be settled by indi- 
viduals or by voluntary associations: that we must turn to 
the state. There is the conflicting view, that the state is for 
reasons, perhaps even metaphysical, but certainly prudential, 
precisely the wrong agency through which to attempt social 
reform. Vhere are multifarious views, at daggers drawn, on 
international affairs, colonialism, states rights everything. 

Ah, but if everyone were educated like Dr. Hutchins, the 
"correct" or "most enlightened" voices would prevail! That, 
to use a word Dr. Hutchins clearly understands, for he uses 
it frequently, is nonsense. If the educated elite cannot arrive 
at a consensus, why can we expect that an educated body 
politic would arrive at a consensus? And even if it did, how 
can we tell that the consensus of the newly educated would 
be desirable? I am obliged to confess that I should sooner 
live in a society governed by the first two thousand names 
in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed 
by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. 
Not, heaven knows, because I hold lightly the brainpower or 
knowledge or generosity or even the affability of the Har- 
vard faculty; but because I greatly fear intellectual arro- 
gance, and that is a distinguishing characteristic of the uni- 
versity which refuses to accept any common premise. In the 

A Reply to Robert Hutch $ [135 

deliberations of two thousand citizens of Boston I think one 
would discern a respect for the laws of God and for the 
wisdom of our ancestors which does not characterize the 
thought of Harvard professors who, to the extent that they 
believe in God at all, tend to believe He made some terrible 
mistakes which they would undertake to rectify; and, when 
they are paying homage to the wisdom of our ancestors, tend 
to do so with a kind of condescension toward those whose 
accomplishments we long since surpassed. 

I am saying simply that the educated elite in this country 
are not agreed as to what are the central problems that edu- 
cation aims to settle., or help settle, let alone what is their 
solution; that among the elite there are radical and irrecon- 
cilable differences which have npthing whatever to do with 
the size of the brain or the lengui or breadth of the educa- 
tion. I go further and say that when the educational elite 
do appear to be taking a position almost unanimously, they 
are often impulsive, wrong-headed, and superficial (as for 
instance, when for a while it was sweepingly accepted that 
Darwin had buried God, and that therefore agnosticism was 
the sign of educational sophistication; or more recently, 
when academic folk appeared almost in a body to accept the 
hysterical myth that Senator McCarthy had ushered in a 
reign of terror). And I conclude that there is, therefore, no 
currently fashionable theory of education which speaks con- 
vincingly about the social utility of a good education, and 
therefore no convincing demonstration having to do with the 
interrelatedness of good general education and social prog- 
ress and harmony. 

I myself am much persuaded by the position that a good 
education is sufficiently justified by what it renders to the 
individual who receives it, and that no external justification 
for it is needed. But even that demonstration has not been 
made convincingly to the people at large, and I do not think 
one can easily sell the community on the value of a good 
classical education without doing it more graphically. It 


just is not that obvious to the skeptic that Latin is worth all 
that work and expense, unrelated either to getting and 
spending, or to making over the world in a handsomer image. 
It is all very well to talk about the personal and private joys 
of reading Homer in Greek, or being able to run through 
Bach's partitas, or of evenings by the fire rereading a novel 
by Jane Austen, but there is an intuitive suspicion abroad that 
the joys are not that palpable, and that if they are and here 
the suspicion runs very deepthere are complementary dis- 
turbances which are less frequently spoken about. The sus- 
picion is not after all ill-grounded, if we look at the evidence 
about us, that "good" education tends to produce students 
who may indeed read Greek plays from time to time, but 
who are more discontented, more fretful, more anxious, more 
resentful, less happy, than the graduated hipster whose edu- 
cation was in community relations and balanced diets, and 
whose recreations will be confined to zooming about on a 
motorboat, or sitting up watching the late, late show. That 
suspicion, as I say, is very general: one has only to read repre- 
sentative works of the college generation of John Dos Passos 
and Whittaker Chambers and Thomas Merton to understand 
the impulsive cry of the despairing parent: Oh my God, must 
my son receive a good education? 

I do not believe we will ever be convincing in our effort 
to mobilize the nation in behalf of good education until we 
give the aims of that education more intelligibly. And this 
we cannot do, so far as I can see, until we free ourselves of 
the superstitions of academic freedom. So long as academic 
freedom is understood to mean the right of the researcher to 
pursue knowledge without being hindered by the law, the 
doctrine is unassailable. But it does not make sense to sug- 
gest, as it everywhere is, that academic freedom should 
constrain a teaching institution to keep a teacher on even if 
he devotes himself to undermining the premises of the school 
at which he teaches, or the society in which he lives. Such 
a teacher may properly be deemed uncongruous ? and any 

A Reply to Robert Hutchins [137 

college that so finds, ought to be as free to replace him as 
a community is free to dismiss a public servant for whose 
services there is no longer a demand. 

It is especially urgent that academic freedom be aban- 
doned in its capacity as keeper of doctrinal parity, guardian 
of the notion that all ideas are equal. Under academic free- 
dom, the modern university is supposed to take a position of 
"neutrality" as among competing ideas. "A university does 
not take sides on the questions that are discussed in its halls," 
a committee of scholars and alumni of Yale reported in 1952. 
"In the ideal university all sides of any issue are presented as 
impartially as possible." To do otherwise, they are saying, is 
to violate the neutrality of a teaching institution, to give 
advantage to one idea over against another, thus prejudicing 
the race which, if all the contestants were let strictly alone, 
truth is bound to win. 

That is voodoo. The aims of education are to forward 
knowledge and right conduct at the expense of some points 
of view. The educated man, Russell Kirk has trenchantly 
said, is the man who has come to learn how to apprehend 
ethical norms by intellectual means. He has come to know, 
in a word, what is right conduct, and why one should conduct 
oneself rightly, and he has come to know this by understand- 
ing the rational base for such conduct As long as universities 
take the position that they will not affirm one idea over 
against another, the faculty and officials of a center of humane 
learning are saying that they do not know what right conduct 
is. They are, moreover, saying that they never will know: for 
academic freedom is not conceived as a self -terminating de- 
vice to be discarded on the day of the Grand Discovery, 
Academic freedom is conceived as a permanent instrument 
of doctrinal egalitaiianism; it is always there to remind us 
that we can never know anything for sure: which I view as 
another way of saying we cannot really know what are the 
aims of education. 

To say a college should not take sides because it cannot 


know which side is right, or because it cannot afford the 
chance of taking the wrong side, is to sentence colleges to 
a destiny of intellectual futOity, and bring education into the 
discredit in which so many people now hold it. If it is aca- 
demically presumptuous for a college to assert, for instance, 
that the Western way of life is better than that of the Com- 
munists", then education has become frivolous. It is the duty 
of a university to pass on to its students the prodigious intel- 
lectual and moral patrimony accumulated by the generations 
and generations of scholars and students who agonized be- 
fore us. To assume, as academic freedom implicitly does, that 
every child, every student, should in nonscientific matters 
begin again fresh, as though Plato and Aristotle and Augus- 
tine and Saint Thomas had among them reached not one 
dependable conclusion, is to doubt the very structure of 
learning; is to doubt that there are any aims at all, aside 
from purely utilitarian ones, to education. 

If it can be said that the education of Lenin produced an 
aberrant, then it is tacitly conceded that standards exist by 
which he is judged an aberrant standards we accept. If the 
giraffe leans down to the level of the donkey and says "Runt!" 
there is implicit an idea of a decent elevation for animals, to 
which the donkey does not attain. It must follow, then, that 
there are standards by which, taking the measure of then- 
deviation, we judge such matters as whether Lenin or Hitler 
or Leninism or Hitlerism deserves equal attention and re- 
spect from our students: whether a university should be 
"impartial" to them. And if there are standards, they ought 
to be accounted for in any theory of education which aims to 
speak intelligibly. Such a theory would say something like 

"Schools ought not to be neutral. Schools should not pro- 
ceed as though the wisdom of our fathers were too tentative 
to serve as an educational base. The Ten Commandments do 
not sit about shaking, awaiting their inevitable deposition 
by some swashbuckling professor of ethics. Certain great 

A Reply to Robert Hutchins [139 

truths have been apprehended. In the field of morality, all 
the basic truths have been apprehended; and we are going 
to teach these, and teach, and demonstrate, how it is that 
those who disregard them fall easily into the alien pitfalls 
of communism, or fascism, or liberalism. 

"There is a purpose in life. It is known what that purpose 
is, in part because it has been divulged, in part because man 
is endowed with a rational mechanism by which he can 
apprehend it Educators should pass on those truths, and 
endow students with the knowledge of the processes by 
which they are recognized as such. To do this is the single 
greatest contribution a teaching institution can make: it is 
the aim of education, to which all else is subordinate and 
derivative. If education can endow students with the powers 
of ethical and rational discrimination by which to discern 
and give their allegiance to the great certitudes of the West, 
we shall have a breed of men who will discharge truly the 
responsibilities that face them as the result of changing 

I advocate indoctrination? There is a devil-word, with lots 
of power left in it, to tyrannize over any discussion of aca- 
demic theory. In fact, it is literally impossible to act on the 
abstract directives of academic freedom. Just as, thank God, 
it is almost impossible for an individual to be entirely neutral, 
it is impossible for a department within a college to be 
neutral, or even for a college to be neutral. "Indoctrination," 
in the sense of urging of one doctrine rather than another, 
goes on all the time, and right under the noses of some of 
the most vociferous academic freedomites, who are often 
themselves the premier inculcators. 

In 1959, the Harvard Crimson published the results of a 
careful questionnaire on religious and political attitudes 
among the students. The poll, a random-sample survey, had 
been prepared under the professional supervision of Profes- 
sor David Riesman, a sociologist of world renown. Listen to 


the summation by an editor of the paper of the political half 
of the questionnaire: 

". . . whereas only a twelfth of Harvard's undergraduates 
describe their political temperament as 'radical/ over a 
seventh support full socialization of industries; more than a 
fifth favor socialization of the medical profession . . . nearly 
a third believe that the Federal government should own and 
operate all basic industries ... a third . . . favor immediate 
unilateral suspension of atomic tests ... a clear-cut majority 
. . . support recognition of Communist China and a marked 
increase in American economic aid to other countries . . . one- 
third prefer surrender to the Soviet Union over a nuclear 
world war. Two-thirds support such Welfare State projects 
as Social Security and Federal regional power development 
. . . four-fifths approve of Federal aid to public secondary 
schools; two-thirds support national health insurance, Fed- 
eral aid to private colleges and universities, government wage 
and price controls to check inflation; and half support Fed- 
eral financial assistance to American cultural activities." 
Indeed, "within the College . . . Federal aid is rapidly gam- 
ing the status of a magic word. Surrounded by a climate of 
liberalism, most Harvard undergraduates seem ready to 
accept increased Federal activity in almost any area of 
national life from housing developments to theaters, and 
from farms to factories/' 

How did the students get that way? 

"For the most part/' the Crimson report states, "the Col- 
lege students did not arrive in Cambridge with these beliefs; 
they picked them up at Harvard. Over half admit that their 
political views have been strongly influenced since Fresh- 
man Registration, and, of these, seven-tenths have changed 
either 'from conservative to liberal' or 'from liberal to more 

Now it may be that to indoctrinate students in political 
Liberalism is to lead them toward the truthcertainly Har- 
vard appears to be acting on that assumption. But what is 

A Reply to Robert Hutchins [141 

relevant in this discussion is not what direction Harvard is 
taking, but the fact that, in violation of the precepts of 
academic freedom, it is taking any direction at all; what is 
remarkable is that, contrary to the dictates of the theoretical 
literature that continues to pour out of Harvard, sly old 
Mother Harvard is not in any sense "impartial" or "neutral." 
The fact that you or I may happen to disagree with the 
political tendencies of Harvard education has no bearing on 
the meaning for all of us of so brazen a departure from the 
doctrinal imperatives of academic freedom. It means that 
the colleges may some day soon bring theory into line with 
practice, and give up all the nonsense about neutrality. When 
that happens, a substantial theoretical victory will have been 
won, and Life magazine may even celebrate the event with 
another editorial; and then we can address ourselves to the 
problem of which in fact are the ideas., political and philo- 
sophical, which best reflect the wisdom of the West, and will 
best equip us to survive the barbarian encirclement; and 
bring the West out alive. 

I say only that the wisdom is there, and that educational 
theory ought to adjust to that fact, All the changing condi- 
tions we hear so much about do not affect the validity or 
applicability of the central directives of human conduct, 
and if those who are always calling for brave new solutions 
to our problems, like Dr. Hutchins, seem to be giving more 
time to calling for them than to looking for them, do not 
judge them harshly; they have no alternative. Burke would 
have treated them with tolerance, as he did his own con- 
temporaries when he said, speaking for all the men of his 
age, including himself, "We know that we have made no 
discoveries; and we think that no discoveries are to be made, 
in morality; nor many in the great principles of government, 
nor in the idea of liberty, which were understood long be- 
fore we were born, altogether as well as they will be after the 
grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the 
silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity." 


. . . the fact does remain that Catholic conservatives and 
liberals are often conducting a sometimes unhealthy, often 
unchristian and totally unnecessary internecine feud. 

I know I speak for many when I call upon conservatives 
and liberals alike to begin to think seriously now of ways in 
which this apparent impasse can be resolved for the sake of 
Church and country. . . . 

Is it out of the question to hope tJiat quiet meetings be- 
tween members of both camps might be held to work out 
Christian ground rules for debate and to decide on a basic, 
minimal program for a united fight against Communism and 
for the promotion of justice and charity in our society? 

DONALD J. THORMAN, managing editor 
of Ave Maria, in an editorial, October 
28, 1961 

MR. DONAUD THOKMAN has made a most pertinent 
suggestion, namely, that an attempt be made to formulate 
a c *basie, minimal program for a united fight against Com- 
munism . . ." on which Catholic Liberals and conservatives 
should be able to agree. But I have truncated Mr. Thorman's 
sentence. Unfortunately, he did not bring it to a close where 
I did. He wrote, to quote the full sentence, "a basic, minimal 
program for a united fight against Communism and for the 
promotion of justice and charity in our society." ( His italics.) 
My considered answer to the longer question is: Any such 
minimal program is going to end up so minimal as to be 
useless. The reason why is that Catholic Liberals disagree 


Catholic Liberals, Conservatives, Requirements of Unity [143 

very strongly with Catholic conservatives on how to promote 
justice and if it became necessary to formulate an approach 
on which both sides might agree, on such issues as, say, how 
to promote racial toleration, or how to promote industrial 
harmony, we'd end up with one of those ritual invocations 
of common purpose which are the surest disguise of sunder- 
ing differences. For instance, let me suggest that the mere 
mention, in the previous sentence, of those hypermotive 
terms "racial toleration'* and "industrial harmony" has already 
brought up the guard of the Liberal who is reading this essay. 

I am not suggesting that Catholics should cease arguing 
about how best to serve the ends of justice and chanty in 
all tilings. I am suggesting that a serious effort be made to 
detach from other quarrels, to the extent possible, the argu- 
ment about the Communist issue. You will remember, that 
used to be official policy. They called it, immediately after 
the war, the "bipartisan policy"; that is to say, a policy pre- 
sumptively backed by both Democrats and Republicans, and 
held immune from normal factional analysis. The trouble 
with the bipartisanship of 1945-1949 is that it was pretty 
much bipartisan on their side that is to say, on the side of 
what we conservatives sometimes call the appeasers; and so 
in due course, especially after the loss of China, many Re- 
publicans and not a few Democrats turned in their bipartisan 
badges, checked out their six-shooters and started to fire 
away at the foreign policy of Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson. 
That division persists, mutatis mutandis, and Catholics are 
involved in it. 

I think it was necessary that the bipartisan era should 
come to an end. But the virtues of bipartisanship should not 
be lost sight of. It is inconceivable that Catholics are not, all 
of them, equally interested in containing the Communists. 
And yet, as Mr. Thorman points out, because we are racked 
by differences of opinion on many matters, the unity we 
should be able to show on the Communist problem is lacking. 
Such are the developing personal antagonisms that some lay- 


men (and priests) shun cooperation with Catholics at the 
other end of the political spectrum even when they seem to 
be saying or doing things with which they almost surely 
agree. May I be struck dead if I am exaggerating, but so help 
me I once saw in the pages of Commonweal a sensible anti- 
Communist proposal. What I should have done (I now real- 
ize ) is written off a note to the editor congratulating him 
though that course has its dangers too, because the editor 
might have felt that I was condescending to him, or worse- 
he might have taken a worried look at the editorial I com- 
mended, and had second thoughts about it. In National 
Review we have printed, I say unblushingly, some articles 
and editorials of spectacular spiritual and strategical moment; 
and yet I never had a note about them, or a friendly nod, 
from any member of the Catholic Liberal community. And 
having said that, I must confess I have been guilty of the 
same indifference to solid anti-Communist achievement by 
Catholic Liberals, though, granted, on the subject of Commu- 
nism they do not often pump within me the juice of admira- 
tion. But there I go that is the kind of thing we are here 
to try to avoid, is it not? 

Granted, temperament and pride may be the most for- 
midable obstacles to making common cause. Still, what are 
the objective bases for united action? Let us attempt to be 
concrete. We are in search of a minimal program with which 
both sides might agree. What might I say, for instance, on 
the touchy subject of internal security that could win the 
approval of the majority of Liberal Catholics? Suppose we 
set down a numerical sequence, beginning with the least 
arguable proposal, but getting progressively provocative: 

1) The government shall maintain some kind of internal 
security machinery to guard against disloyalty by govern- 
ment personnel, (Everybody with me?) 

2) Security officials shall have access to the files of the 
FBI and the CIA and other intelligence agencies of the 
government. (How're we doing?) 

Catholic Liberals, Conservatives., Requirements of Unity [145 

3) Security officials shall make an evaluation on the basis 
of all the data they can lay their hands on, and in the event 
of an adverse determination shall recommend immediate dis- 
missal to the department head. (Purely procedural? . . . ) 

4) On receipt of a negative recommendation, the depart- 
ment head shall, in his absolute discretion, decide whether 
or not the employee shall remain in government service. 
( Hmmm . . . ) 

5) A government employee, having no "right" to his job, 
may be deprived of it without due process as commonly 
understood. (Whoa! . . .) 

6) Any individual suspected of disloyalty or unreliability 
shall be discharged from government service whether or not 
he works for a so-called sensitive agency, whether or not his 
particular job, within the government agency, is itself sensi- 
tive. . . .(The crowd is beginning to roar); moreover: 

7) If any hearing is held, which shall be at the sole dis- 
cretion of the department head, the employee shall not be 
informed of the sources of accusations against Mm if there 
is any risk, in so doing, of exposing a counterinteUigence 
operation. Notwithstanding, in all cases the information of 
secret informants will be weighed. ( Mutiny. John Cogley has 
fainted, and is being carried out of the room. . . . ) 

How far down this list, arm in arm with the conservative, 
will the Liberal go? My guess is somewhere down toward the 
vicinity of No. 4; some would go to 5, even 6. Very few 
would go on to No. 7. 

Is this a technique by which one might put one's finger on 
the so-called minimal program? Should Liberal and conserva- 
tive Catholics, aware that they approve proposals 1-3, join 
hands in opposing those who challenge these and then sepa- 
rate, to fight against each other, in respect of Nos. 4-7? 
Assuming this is a fruitful methodological approach, it could 
easily be expanded, by anyone for himself, or by any man 
with a schematic understanding of the issues that separate 
Left from Right 


I myself prefer at this juncture a less schematic approach. 
Granted the uses of the foregoing technique, how far can we 
really go in understanding each other without first fully 
understanding Mr. Thorman's injunction, and examining its 
tacit assumptions? I understand that a loose syllogism has 
been offered, whose parts are roughly as follows: 

Proposition A: Communism promotes injustice. 

Proposition B: We should promote justice. 

Conclusion: Those who promote justice are thereby wag- 
ing anti-Communism. 

Question: Is this a correct syllogism? 

Answer: No, it is not, but in its coils many fine minds 

< We are responsible for Communismr roars the Rev. Louis 
J. Twomey in the October, 1961, issue of Act (I assume that 
he roared out the words, because in his script he used both 
the exclamation point and the italics). Now if Father Twomey 
had meant by that that we are responsible for the imperial- 
istic successes of the Communists, I would surely agree: it is 
inconceivable that the Communists could have advanced as 
they have done but for a morally and strategically inert West. 
But Father Twomey does not mean that. The Communists 
have advanced, he says, because of "our supreme unconcern 
with gross violations of justice and charity here and abroad/' 

Now I find that statement historically nonsensical. I be- 
lieve we should make justice because it is the right thing 
to do to make justice; but I do not for a moment believe that 
every act of justice draws strength away from the Communist 
movement. The temptation of the Liberal is to secularize a 
uniquely religious relationship. It is true that every act of 
justice causes the heavenly chorus to rejoice; and that every 
act of injustice, or uncharity, causes pain to Our Lord: in 
this sense, as human beings, we are each one of us in direct 
contact with eternity, and each day our individual ledgers 
reflect the success or lack of it of our daily struggle against 

Catholic Liberals, Conservatives, Requirements of Unity [147 

But it is theologically wrong, historically naive, and stra- 
tegically suicidal to assume that the forces of Communism, 
like those of the devil, are routed by personal or even cor- 
porate acts of justice and love. Our fight against Commu- 
nism is not to be understood merely as a fight against sin: 
that is a fight in which each one of us is supremely engaged, 
and stands to lose his own soul. The other fight is one in 
which we are engaged as a civil collectivity, and the distinc- 
tion is not between "just" and "unjust" acts in relation to 
fighting Communism, but between relevant and irrelevant 
means of fighting Communism. If you look after the medical 
needs of a retired and impoverished former employee, you 
have performed an act of love, under certain circumstances 
an act of justice, perhaps even, under still other circum- 
stances, an act of mercy. Escalate your personal acts of 
justice, love and mercy into, if you will, Socialized Medicine 
still, it cannot be established that your act, or your govern- 
ment's, will have anything whatever to do with staying the 
Communist juggernaut. For heaven's sake! Anyone who be- 
lieves the battle will go to the more just, the more charitable, 
can hardly believe that this battlefor all the West's sinful- 
nesswill go to the Communists! who have made a religion 
out of injustice, and for whom mercy is officially catalogued 
as bourgeois sentimentalism. We could, of course, bring in 
Rube Goldberg, and ask him to work out a causal relation, 
and he might contrive that the old servant, if he did not get 
from you his medical needs, would join the local cell of the 
Communist Party and sound the revolutionary tocsin; but 
such attenuated and materialistically forged linkages are for, 
well, otherworldly people people who stubbornly fail to note 
that a correlation has never been established between the 
extent of injustice and the appeal of Communism, 

Father Twomey believes, for instance, that the segregation 
of the Negro in the South is the single greatest encourage- 
ment to international Communism. I would say the single 
greatest encouragement to international Communism is the 


existence of a class of people who can make that kind of a 
statement. The Communists could not care less whether there 
is segregation in the South, and the Negroes in the South 
have never been attracted to Communism on account of 
segregation. If every white Southerner were to miscegenate 
tomorrow, the Communist Party would not be set back by 
five minutes. The Communists view segregation merely as 
a point of contention within our society which of course they 
will proceed to exploit, just as they will opportunize on every 
friction within the West ( and if there were no frictions Com- 
munism would provide them). 

It is one thing to say that the existence of social strife in 
the South generates a lesion on which the Communists can 
be counted to pour anticoagulants: and that being the case, 
the single-minded anti-Communist might argue that we 
should be even more opposed to the Freedom Riders than to 
the segregationists, inasmuch as it is the former, more than 
the latter, who are giving rise to the ugly explosions which 
the Communists exploit To suggest that a Just Solution (in- 
stant integration, according to some) will silence the Com- 
munist carpers, is naive: the Communists would find just as 
much to criticize in an integrated South as in a segregated 
South, just as they are finding it as easy to criticize our prodi- 
gious trade union movement as to criticize the fledgling 
thing of 30 years ago. 

To suggest that Communism lets up its critique (or loses 
its appeal) as we advance toward Justice (I am letting the 
Liberals define the word, for the present purposes), is to be 
ignorant of Marxist theory and historical Communist prac- 
tice. For Marxists, justice means conformity with the require- 
ments of dialectical materialism. The so-called social reforms 
which Father Twomey has so much desired have, a great 
many of them, been adopted in Italy, where nevertheless 
Communism thrives. The strongest Communist Party in 
post- World War I Europe was in Germany Mother of Wel- 
fare States. The fact of discrimination in America against the 

Catholic Liberals, Conservatives., Requirements of Unity [149 

Negro is of no more intrinsic concern to the Communists 
than the fact of discrimination against the Jews in Soviet 
Russia is of concern to them. There are, in certain kinds of 
segregation, problems in justice raised, and certainly prob- 
lems in charity; and the Father Twomeys should, provided 
they are balanced in their analysis, continue to inveigh on 
the matter. But it is as wrong to urge the suppression of the 
segregationists in the name of anti-Communism as it is to 
urge the suppression of the Freedom Riders in the name of 

How widely is it known that the most truly integrated 
country in all of Africa is Angola ( along with Mozambique ) ? 
There the Portuguese over a period of generations have 
virtually wiped out discrimination on account of color. Of 
what bearing has this been in the hate-Portugal drive that 
the Communists have mounted and are pursuing in an effort 
to bring disorder to the Portuguese colony? 

In what three countries in Europe are the Communists 
the weakest? And let us see how justice, in the sense the Lib- 
erals use the word, fares in each. 1) Spain. The Communists 
are weak in Spain primarily because the dictator of Spain 
simply does not tolerate them. Go to Spain and Communize, 
and you will find yourself, in a very little time, either out of 
Spain or in jail. What has that got to do with justice? 2) Ire- 
land. And Ireland is the poorest country in Europe, by far 
but there are no Communists there to speak of, though there 
is much distributive injustice, one gathers. What is the rea- 
son? It is cultural, primarily. The Communists have never 
succeeded in making much headway in English-speaking 
countries. And 3) West Germany. Why? In part because 
the Communists there are outlawed. In part because anyone 
who believes Communism will augment justice, or that pro- 
Communism is an answer to domestic injustice, has only to 
turn to the man next door, who fled two weeks ago from East 
Germany, to find out what Communism is. Here, then, are 
three reasons which primarily account for the weakness of 


Communism in the three countries of Europe where Com- 
munism is weakest, and not one has to do with justice; or 
mercy, for that matter. 

No, these false correlations, and they are, alas, typical of 
Liberal thought on the subject of Communism, simply do 
not work out. I am not a pragmatist But I believe one should 
be pragmatic. Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley in the dark 
days of the Civil War that his aim was to keep the Union, 
that if he could do so by freeing every slave, he was prepared 
to free every slave; if he could keep the Union by freeing 
half the slaves, he'd let the Negro population stay half slave 
and half free; that if he could keep the Union by letting all 
the slaves stay slaves, why thus would they remain. Lincoln 
meant by that letter not, obviously, that the highest imagi- 
nary ideal was the survival of the Union, but that the survival 
of the Union was the highest ideal of which he could hope 
to be the instrument; the survival of the Union was his high- 
est existential responsibility; and the Union having been 
secured, then, under its framework, civilized discourse would 
resume, and men with black faces would in due course be- 
come free. In our time, and in respect of world forces which 
are insurgent against civilization itself, it is I think desper- 
ately clear that the West must survive, or we shall have en- 
tered the longest and bitterest night in human history. To 
effect that survival, I am prepared to do almost anything. 
And as a Catholic conservative, I wish to seek out that pro- 
gram which is relevant to diminishing Communist power, 
not necessarily that program which has the highest moral 
sex appeal. (To this course this country is implicitly com- 
mitted; hence our defense budget, for instance, is many times 
larger than what one might call our social, or justice, 

What is relevant to diminishing Communist power? I 
touch on three points at random: 

In the field of foreign aid, I would relate every penny to 
the anti-Communist enterprise. (If you desire to send money 

Catholic Liberals, Conservatives, Requirements of Unity [151 

for purely eleemosynary purposes, and everyone should 
and I do do so through the missions. ) 

Transform the Peace Corps into a body of evangelists for 
freedom, young men and women highly trained in the ways 
of Communist psychological warfare who could, in behalf of 
freedom, analyze, argue, explain, edify: intellectual and 
spiritual legionnaires for freedom and justice. 

Acknowledge that }ustice-as-related-to-anti-Communism 
requires the liberation of the men we betrayed in Eastern 
Europe. There indeed is a fusion of justice and anti-Com- 
munist activity: the redemption of the tens of millions 
whom, because of a slovenly, cowardly and unimaginative 
diplomacy, we turned over to their Communist oppressors, 
not only defaulting on our moral obligations and diminishing 
our identification with justice, but aggrandizing greatly the 
enemy's power. Liberation would be an act of justice; but 
primarily it must be sought as a means of weakening the 
enemy. . . . This merely adumbrates the land of thing I have 
in mind, which one would hope might, upon reflection, ap- 
peal to the Liberal Catholic. 

But Mr. Thorman is absolutely correct that if any kind of 
progress is to be made in establishing a discourse between 
Catholic conservatives and Catholic Liberals, it must be pre- 
ceded by an improvement in one's manners, and by genuine 
attempts at charity and understanding. Now here I should 
like to be able to say that both sides are equally to blame 
for the breakdown in communications, but to say so would 
be to say something I do not believe, and that would not be 
an honorable way to repay Ave Marias hospitality. It is true 
that there are "conservatives," perhaps some of them are 
Catholic, who believe that everyone who disagrees with 
them is a Communist, or a Comsymp, or whatever; but these 
are totally unrepresentative people, and to get worked up 
over what a tiny and aberrant minority does, and to suggest 
(as so many Catholic Liberals have done) that their be- 
havior is typical of conservative behavior, is to sin against 


realityand justice. Conservative Catholics are quite pre- 
pared to disown irresponsible or invincibly ignorant Catholic 
conservatives who make any such assertion, and will the 
Liberals then disown such statements as Edward Morgan's, 
quoted by Mr. Thorman in his heuristic editorial? "The 
heinous, unforgivable crime of the radical right is to leap 
on such misjudgments [as the Liberals have made] as evi- 
dence of disloyalty." Will they disown such statements as 
Father Twomey's, that most American conservatives are 
motivated by a material self-interest? Or such ignorant state- 
ments as that of the editor of The Sign, to the effect that 
American "ultraconservatives" are, typically, rich, com- 
placent, unfeeling, ignorant, Birchite, snooping moral in- 
sensates? (The Sign, August, 1961.) 

Let us understand one another, for God's sake; and let us 
not put off the day of our reconciliation. How commendable 
is the effort of Mr. Thorman! We must come to know one 
another. To prove my sincerity, I shall once again invite to 
lunch with me, to talk over our differences, the editor of 
America. I hope he will not, once again, refuse.* 

* A vain hope, it proved. I have sent out into the crossroads for someone 
to take the place of him who was invited. 


Saanenmoser, Switzerland. My colleagues have sent me the 
transcript of several Jack Paar shows, at which he and others 
celebrated my inhumanity to man, among other failings, 
notorious among which being my unintelligibility. Would 
I care to comment? Well, having read the transcript closely, 
yes, I would. For one thing, one might as well set the record 
straight; and besides, the time is ripe for giving a little 
thought to the phenomenon of boastful resistance to thought. 
The mistake is often made of assuming that the audience of 
Jack Paar is as loose minded as he is. Several of my friends, 
making that assumption, counseled me not to accept Mr. 
Paar's urgently worded invitation to appear (to answer 
charges made against me by Gore Vidal). If you are not 
show biz, they said, the only way you can make a successful 
appearance on the Jack Paar show is to play the part of an 
amiable common man, and flatter the stuffing out of Paar. 
Well, I didn't believe it, and still don't: but I distinguish be- 
tween Paar's audience and himself. It is probably true that 
one cannot succeed with Paar without that unctuous self- 
ingratiation which is the trademark of so many of his most 
successful guests;* but the audience doesn't seem to mind a 
few minutes* serious talk, cast at an adult level; and so the 

** I am indebted to Murray Kempton, see below, for calling attention to 
the following colloquy: 

VICE-PRESIDENT NIXON. Could I ask one favor, Jack? 
J. PAAB. Yes sir; yon can ask any favor you*d like. 
VICE-PRESIDENT NIXON. Could we have your autograph for our girls? 
J. PAAK. I cannot tell you how much this means to our show. It gives us class. 



real question is, can you succeed with the audience if you 
have not succeeded with Paar? Well, certainly he will do 
the very best he can to keep that from happening. I know: 
I tried thinking on his program, instead of emoting, and he 
was so traumatized it took him two and one-half shows, 
several gag writers, half a dozen bald lies, and a couple of 
character assassins to restore his composure. 

I was on the show Wednesday, January 31, 1962, to answer 
the charge that I had "attacked" the Pope as being "too left 
wing." I was introduced to Paar just before the show, and we 
chatted together amiably for about fifteen minutes in his 
dressing room. What did I especially want to say? he asked. 
I want to set the record straight on what National Review 
did say about Mater et Magistra, I answered. What else? 
Anything you wish to ask me, I repeated. I requested only 
that if I were asked a question that called for a complex 
answer, I be given as much as one minute to answer it. Fine, 
he said. "I want you to leave this show feeling good that's 
what I want. You know/' he confided, "one of the reasons 
why people think we give more breaks to Liberals and left- 
wingers is because we have more of them on the show. But 
that's only because there are more of them around, more of 
them who are interesting people, as people. On the other 
side," he finished warmly, "there's just Goldwater and you." 
I smiled prettily, and mumbled something about my willing- 
ness to draw him up a somewhat larger list. 

Well, I was on for about a half hour. During that period, 
in specific answer to JP's questions, I made 17 points, of 
major and minor importance. They were in the order given: 
1 ) That National Review did not attack the Pope as a left- 
winger, but rather expressed disappointment, at the tiirm 
Mater et Magistra was published, that it did not give primary 
attention to the Communist menace. 2) That Gore VidaFs 
rendition was false, and reflected his general state of hysteria 
in evaluating conservative activities. 3) That I consider my- 

An Evening with Jack Paar [155 

self a radical conservative, i.e., someone whose ideas are 
rooted in unchanging principles, but whose respect is great 
for organic growth and the body of settled opinion. 4) That 
Robert Welch has said irresponsible things, but that his sins 
cannot be visited on the membership at large of the John 
Birch Society; and that Liberals who criticize Welch ought 
to criticize extremist statements coming from their own 
camp, e.g., Truman's charge in 1952 that Eisenhower was 
anti-Semitic, and his more recent charge that members of 
the John Birch Society are "Ku Kluxers with their sheets off." 

5) That what matters is not so much whether a political 
reformer is sincere, as whether what he sets out to do has 
objective merit. 6) That in our time, there is a role for minute- 
men, e.g., in Cuba. 7) That the United States is in effect at 
war with Cuba, so that a declaration of war would merely 
codify a de facto relationship. 8) That I wrote a book giv- 
ing my views on Senator McCarthy, who was my friend; 
that those views are complex; that I believe anyone who 
studied the record closely would sympathize with much that 
McCarthy was trying to do. 9 ) That if McCarthy were to ask 
whether 'National Review employed ex-Communists I would, 
after satisfying myself of the Committee's right to ask the 
question, answer it: by saying there are five ex-Communists 
who work for 'National Review. 

10) That I do not myself intend to go into politics, that I 
conceive the role of National Review to be that of providing 
material thought, facts, analysis for the opinion-makers. 
11) That I like Senator Goldwater. 12) That I did not think 
Mr. Eisenhower was a successful President, and that I did 
not think history would look on Eisenhower's views as 
sharply distinguishable from Kennedy's. IS) That the United 
Nations was founded on a delusion and that we shall have 
frequently to circumvent it in the future, as we have in the 
past. 14) That there is a conservative revival among students, 
and that the primary reason why is because they sense the 
failure of Liberalism to cope with reality. 15) That the world 


is not better off today than it was forty years ago, as witness 
the increase in slavery, and the materialization, in the hands 
of a Communist state, of the power to blow up half the world. 
16 ) That The New York Times' Harrison Salisbury fell for the 
Khrushchev soft line after the 20th Congress, and for much 
other Communist propaganda. 17) That I consider that con- 
servatives are the true friends of the people because their 
devotion to principle and to freedom contributes the most 
to the well-being and happiness of mankind. 

PAAR. Listen all I want you to say to your people, speak to 

your people, Is whatwas it all right? Did you enjoy 

yourself? Did we treat you all right? 

WFB. Did you learn anything? (Laughter, much applause).* 
PAAK I think you're sincere in what you believe; -for me, 

Bill, you lack all feeling for people; and in the things I 

read I find no feeling for humanity. 

( One must bear in mind that Jack Paar is given to express- 
ing his feelings for humanity by weeping publicly, thereby 
setting standards of demonstrable humanitarianism which 
those of us not trained in show biz find it difficult to compete 

I answered that if that were true, it was my fault for giv- 
ing poor expression to my views; not any intrinsic inhuman- 
ity in the views themselves. 

PAAR. Thank you very much, tJiank you very much. (Ap- 
plause. Exit WFB. ) 


In subsequent days, Paar made a great deal out of the 
ensuing episode for which, as it happens, I had no responsi- 
bility whatever. How many seats would I like for my friends? 
an assistant to Paar had asked me several days before. Six, 

* Here, and below, I reproduce the transcript, including its description of 
audience reactions and emphasized words, exactly. 

An Evening with Jack Paar [157 

please, I had said. I don't know exactly Bow many people 
fit into Mr. Paar's studio several hundred, I should guess; 
but I was not made to feel that a request for six seats was 
unusual, or inordinate. Two of my six guests, I then told the 
assistant my wife and a friend were to drive to the coun- 
try with me that same night. Would it be possible for them to 
tiptoe out of the studio discreetly, after I had completed my 
interview but before the entire show was over? Certainly, he 
said just point them out to me and I'll escort them out dur- 
ing the commercial that follows your appearance. 

That was done: and when I reached the elevator, they 
were there waiting for me. The other four guests stayed in 
their seats throughout the entire show. I subsequently 
learned that five members of the staff of National Review, on 
their own initiative, had joined the public queue and got 
tickets for the show. I was wholly unaware of their presence 
in the studio. 

PAAR. [Immediately following the applause after I left] I 
knew there was a different group in here tonight, I could 
tell ... I think [reverting to his theme] that thafs impor- 
tant, that you love people. I think you have to have some 
feeling, and perhaps I'm sure Mr. Buckley must have 
in his writings and in the things he does I find no no- 
no humanity; I'm sorry, thafs how I feel. 

Jack Paar's audiences are highly volatile. He encourages 
this. Accordingly, at that point, someone in the audience 

VOICE. Oh baloney! 

PAAB (angrily), Well, if you don't like it, Buster, you know 
where the door is, don't you? (Noise, confusion). 

Whereupon some people got up from their seats, went to 
said door, and left the studio. Paar was undone. . . . 

PAAB. I'd like to have the lights put on in the studio, to show 
you 20, 30, 40 people who obviously were in how many? 


[audience yelling numbers] 20? How many? 10 [general 
chaos] is that all? . . . It looked like more than that leaving. 

[Next day, Thursday] PAAR. Mr. Buckley did one thing I 
didnt like. He had 12 people, I believe, all told; they made 
a lot of noise and they applauded on cue [how could I give 
cues? Paar was asking all the questions] and laughed on 
cue at him and when he got up, they got up and left. It's 
quite embarrassing in the show . . . and it's also discourte- 
ous. ... I thought that was rude of him. 

If there was rudeness, it was hardly mine. It was Buster's. 
He should have known Paar was joking when he showed him 
the door. 

There were two other guests on the program Wednesday 
after I left: Pierre Burton, a Canadian editor, and Harry 
Golden, high priest of left-wing yahooism. The balance of 
the program Wednesday was devoted primarily to variations 
on the theme of 

1) my inhumanity and that of conservatives in general. 
PAAR. What I cant stand is that these people when they talk 
they have no feeling of humanity they just dont seem to 

care about people. GOLDEN whenever you read about 

these rightists . . . always a skinny little guy, or a hatchet 
murderer you ve never seen a -fat guy as a hatchet murderer 
always a thin guy with hoUow cheeks. [Mr. Golden is fat]; 

and 2) my unintelligibility. PAAR. I dont think Mr. 
Buckley is a dangerous man at all because . . . he doesnt have 
the important quality of politics and thafs to communicate, 
and Mr. Buckley, I dont think he has that. BURTON. . . . he 
doesnt say very much y you know. PAAR. Look, am I naive 
and sophomoric when I say I dont understand everything 
he was saying? GOLDEN. You can catch a word here and 
there., like t~h-e [laughter] . . . ; 

and 3 ) the benevolence, nay the heroism, of Jack Paar for 

An Evening with Jack Paar [159 

putting me on his show. On this theme, especially profuse 
was Mr. Hugh Downs, Paar's full-time sycophant. DOWNS. I 
admire you for running it on the program, I really do. I 
think a lot of people can come on in and be what they are 
and be judged by the people who tune in ... anything can be 
allowed on this program and it cant be harmful to the coun- 
try. And again: DOWNS, I think he should come on television 
more often because I think people will see exactly what he is 

and he'll be judged and he'll stand or fall on that basis 

The next day Paar was so carried away by the possibilities 
of this great theme that he implied he had received the 
personal congratulations, over the telephone of the President 
of the United States!* I had a I'm not going to get into 
where but I had a call today that really thrilled me because 
the wires, tJie telegrams to Mr. Buckley, were there were a 
lot of wires, he got a lot of wires, and I thought Gee Whiz, 
you know and we got far less than he did, and then I got a 
call from Washington, from a very important person, and he 
said, The greatest service I could do this country is to show 
these people and let them all speak and tJie person who 
called me, it really made my day. . . . JP's day is not made 
by mere senators or cabinet members or ambassadors. Only 
by Presidents, and radical conservatives. 


On Thursday, February 1, I had a call from Paar's assist- 
ant: What had I thought of the show? I repKed (these are 
my exact words) : "I thought it was fair enough while I was 
on, but I think it's a pity Mr. Paar turned it into a Hate Buck- 
ley session for the rest of the evening after I had gone.* 
Pause. "Well," said the assistant, "Jack feels rather bad about 
it himself. WeVe received almost two hundred telegrams, 
and 90 per cent are in your favor. What's more, they are ob- 
viously not rigged they come from all over the country; 

* I subsequently learned: he liad. 


and they definitely aren't crackpot. I called to tell you Jack 
has decided to apologize to you tonight." 

PAAR. Let's ~be fair let's talk about last night, all right? Let's 
admit first of all there were many wires. Hundreds of wires. 
And the majority of those wires, the majority of those 
wires, were complimenting Mr. Buckley . . . whether that 
was y you know, his own following ... I don't know ... I 
talked to Mr. Buckley today. Please I ask you to forgive 
meI, didrit, one of my boys did. And he said, Mr. Buckley 
said, that he was treated courteously and fairly while he 
was here, but tJiat he thought it was unfair to talk about 
him when he had gone. Well, that really cant be helped, 
what other people say about him when he had gone. Mr. 
Buckley is a very controversial person, and he must realize 
that that's bound to come up. Many of your telegrams 
did say they thought it was unfair of me to mimic him after 
he had gone, and so did my wife. Jes, she did. He's not 
difficult to imitate and I did it, I thought, in jest and my 
wife didnt like it, and some of you didn't like it and may I 
publicly apologize if it of ended anyone. I just did his 
gestures, which are quite easy to do. So I apologize for 

Having apologized, Paar decided to break fresh ground: 

1) PAAR. I have never mentioned Joseph McCarthys name 
on this show. Ever. Nor would I. The Senator is dead. I 

would not bring up his name Mr. Buckley brought it 


From Wednesday's transcript: 

PAAR. [out of the blue]. You were a great supporter of Mc- 
Carthy > right? (I had not mentioned McCarthy's name.) 

2) PAAR. ... I think that we treated him well; he asked to 
come on, hes an adult, he should know what Ir&s getting 
into, when he comes here. 

An Evening with Jack Paar [161 
Five minutes earlier, same night, same show: 

PAAR: I asked him on the show, and I wanted to treat him 

3) PAAR. We have never rigged anything against anybody. 

Wednesday. PAAR. I just got a call here. Gore VidaPs com- 
ing back tomorrow night! Jack Paar made this statement 
within three minutes after I had left the stage. Paar's shows 
are taped three hours before they are telecast. Under the cir- 
cumstances, he couldn't have received a telephone call from 
Gore Vidal reacting to my appearance, because the show 
would not go out over the airwaves for another three hours. 
Therefore, the "call" was not made, but was pre-planned. As 
the saying goes, it was rigged. 

4) On the other hand, the support I got was, in Paar's 
analysis, obviously rigged, beginning with my "claque/' see 
above, which performed "on cue." 

PAAR: In Hollywood y the Henry Wallace crowd was the same 
way. They brought their own claque. This was another 
theme Paar found engrossing, and he returned to it again and 
again: the telegrams of protest could only have been organ- 
ized. And worse, ah! the kind of people that wrote in! 

E.g., Monday, February 5: ... the mail that I have re- 
ceived Til tell you this mail and telegrams are enormous 
uh, in Mr. Buckleys -favor. Oh yes. Oh yes. Yes ma am, that 
is true. It is also anti-Semitic, it is also anti-Catholic, it is also 
threatening to have sponsors canceled; it is also threatening 
me. That's true. We have the letters, if you're interested. . . .* 

And again on February 8: PAAR. You know how many let- 
ters we got? Seven thousand letters, in two days, from this 
group. Nearly all in favor of them. Threatening us threaten- 
ing me threatening to have the sponsors cancelled! 

5) Always, Mr. Paar cautioned the audience, it is wise to 
bear in mind that my position is, essentially, the same as the 
Communists', given this or that modification. Mr. BucJdey 

* We are interested. We asked to see the letters, NBC has not yet let us 
do so. 


admitted there were five [former Communists working for 
National Review] ____ I wonder why? It seems to be a pat- 
tern. All of these far-out people seem to as you said one 
night, Hugh, tJie circle joins here. I told you, in Germany 
they have found that those who were avid Nazis are the first 
now to become avid Communist police. There s a certain 
kind of person who is in this kind of thing who is forever 
suspicious and turning in his neighbors. And later: Mr. 
Buckley has five Communists [sic] working for him, by his 
own admission. That's probably the greatest group of former 
Communists working anywhere that I've ever heard of. . . . 

GORE VIDAL. For the simple reason that they're attracted to 
things like Buckley because he's as extreme on the Right as 
the left wing was extreme. These are absolutists and they want 
a revolution . . . they've now all gone over to the right wing 
. . . there's a whole theory that the Birch Society might very 
well be a Communist Society. 

I had said that there were five former Communists on 
National Review's staff. I should have made it clearer that I 
had in mind not the full-time staff, but the editorial mast- 
head, which over the years has included, to be sure, the 
names of five former Communists. If I had had the time, I'd 
have added that the relatively high concentration of former 
Communists who write for National Review might have 
something to do with their attraction to a journal which, in 
their judgment, truly knows bow to fight an enemy whom 
they intimately know. I might have quoted Raymond Aron's 
statement that probably the last great fight will be fought 
between Communists and former Communists. I might have 
observed that a great concentration of former sinners wrote 
for the Bible. But Mr. Paar would, no doubt, have found all 
that unintelligible, and inhuman. Whereupon, Mr. Downs 
would have too. 

And finally, 6) I am against everything. 

An Evening with Jack Paar [163 

PAAR. What is William Buckley? What is he against? From 
what he has written, Mr. Buckley is against: [sic] anti- 
union, anti-social security, anti-integration, anti-United 
Nations, anti-foreign aid, anti-income tax, anti-lower tar- 
iffs and Common Market, anti-anti trust, anti-immigration, 
anti-Alliance for Progress, anti-peaceful attempts to main- 
tain the free world, anti-Supreme Court decisions, he is 
anti-Roosevelt, anti-Truman, anti-Eisenhower, anti-Nixon, 
anti-Rockefeller, and anti-Kennedy. 

Ho hum. This kind of thing can of course be done to 
anyone who takes a comprehensive political position. For in- 
stance, it could be said about Paar, on the basis of his cate- 
gorical opposition to me, that he is by deduction anti-Free 
Cuba, anti-private property, anti-a strong stand against the 
Soviet Union, anti-a free society, anti-MacArthur, anti-Taft, 
anti-Jefferson, anti-Lincoln, anti-Burke, anti-Adam Smith, 
etc., etc., etc. And of course, I happen to be pro-non-monop- 
oly unions, pro-voluntary integration, pro-United Nations 
efforts to implement the principles of the United Nations, 
pro-foreign aid for our allies, pro-a nonprogressive income 
tax, pro-the lowering of tariffs, pro-the Common Market, 
pro-antitrust legislation, pro-peaceful attempts to maintain 
the free world, pro-some Supreme Court decisions, etc. 

But the best was yet to be. 


Gore Vidal, who phoned in asking to be put on the show 
to answer what I had just said three hours before he knew 
what I had said, is, in addition to being a telepathist, an in- 
tellectual, which profession cherishes the making of distinc- 
tions. Besides being an intellectual, Mr. Vidal is a friend of 
Paar, which friendship proved to be the dominant gene dur- 
ing the evening. Notice the difference in manner and ap- 
proach and reasoning, said Paar in introducing Vidal. "YouU 


have different opinions, Tm sure . . . Mr. Vidal [is] a -friend 
of mine, and a very nice man. . . . 

First question: What had I actually said about the Pope 
and the Encyclical? 

: Yes, well what he actually said and I went back and 
looked it up . . . in the month of August, Buckley attacked 
the Pope in a piece in his magazine, and the piece was 
called "A Venture in Triviality" 

a) I did not "attack the Pope." b) There was no "piece/* 
merely a one-paragraph, unsigned editorial, bearing the 
sanction of the editors of National Review, c) The paragraph 
was not called "A Venture in Triviality." It bore no title; one 
phrase in it said "[the encyclical] must strike many as a 
venture in triviality coming at this particular time in history/' 

It was a vicious piece, and America, which is the Jesuit 
weekly in the United States, attacked Buckley in an editorial 
declaring that he owes his readers an apology, unquote. 

the demand by America for an apology was absolutely 
unrelated to the editorial in question. 

And Buckley* s answer to the Jesuits was: "You are impu- 

My answer to the Jesuits was in 2,500 words, one sen- 
tence of which stated that it was impudent for America to 
ask a non-Catholic journal of opinion to apologize for a trans- 
gression (assuming it was even that) againLj exclusively 
Catholic protocol. 

/ mean, who is he? Here's a guy who has never worked 
for a living . . . has never had a job. 

I had one part-time job, as a member of the faculty of 
Yale (1947-1951), and three full-time jobs, before going to 
work for National Review. 

He's got two sisters. 


One said while she was at Smith 

It was ten years after she graduated. 

An Evening with Jack Paar [165 

. . . that the faculty was filled with Communists. 

She said four faculty members had Communist-front 

The other was at Vassar and started the same thing at 

She said that at Vassar the bias was predominantly 

Meanwhile, their brother was at Yale and wrote God and 
Man at Yale and said that was full of Communists. 

My book did not suggest there was a single Communist 
at Yale. 

He feels free to correct, through this little magazine of his, 
the actions of all our Presidents and the Pope, and philoso- 
phers . . . on the subject of philosophy I thought this might 
interest you, Jackof Albert Schweitzer who is one of the 
great men of our time, and whose philosophy is reverence 
for lifehe wrote of Albert Schweitzer, quote: He is more 
destructive than the H-Bomb, unquote. 

The quotation is not from me, but from a book review 
in National Review by a Ph.D. in philosophy. There is no 
presumptively binding agreement between my views and 
those of every one of the several hundred reviewers who 
have reviewed books for National Review.* 

On the subject of integration, Mr. Buckley wrote, quote: 
Segregation is not intrinsically immoral, unquote. Well, that's 
a double negative which means I dont quite dare to come 
out and say Tm in favor of segregation, so TIL put it in a 
double negative, 

a) It isn't a double negative, b) It is a litotes, and should 
be recognized as such by a professional writer. The litotes 
has been around as a necessary rhetorical refinement for 
years; was frequently used, for instance., by that old evader, 

On reflection, I think the statement, when read in context, is wholly 
defensible, I would listen with respect to the argument that the views of 
William of Occam, a more famous philosopher than A. Schweitzer, may 
prove to have been more destructive than the H-Bomb. 


Homer, c) I didn't write that phrase, I spoke it in the pres- 
ence of a Catholic Liberal, John Cogley, who d) agreed with 

. . . but that's exactly what it means, which goes against 
not only Catholic doctrine but I would think any humane 
you put your -finger on it, you know, when you said there's no 
humanity there. 

Not bad, for one paragraph, eh? By all means, ladies and 
gentlemen, notice the difference in manner, and approach, 
and reasoning. 

But Mr. Vidal was not through. 

VIDAL (cont. ). I was just going to say one more thing struck 
me, listening to Mr. Buckley. He said (and I was quite 
fascinated because it's amazing the things perhaps you can 
just get away with, this side of libel) . . .He said that 
Harry Truman had called Eisenhower an anti-Semite and 

PAAR. Yes, he did say that. But what 

VIDAL. There's no evidence that Harry Truman ever said 
this. Now I would like to say right now, on the air, that I 
will give $100 to the National Review which is Buckley's 
magazine., if he can prove that Harry Truman ever said 
any such thing: and if he cannot prove it, why I think he 
should then be regarded as what he is, which is an irre- 
sponsible liar. 

I have sent the following letter to Jack Paar: 


[I have been informed of what Mr. Gore Vidal said on your 
show on Feb. 1.] 

1. The documentation, taken in each case from The New 
York Times, is as follows: On October 10, 1952, President 
Harry Truman accused the Republicans generally of support- 
ing "the discredited and un-American theory of racial supe- 
riority. 9 * On October 17, Assistant Secretary of State Rowland 

An Evening with Jack Paar [167 

Sargeant read a message from Mr. Truman to the Jewish 
Welfare Board in Washington. Eisenhower, Truman said, 
"cannot escape responsibility" for his endorsement of Senator 
Revercomb, "the champion of the anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish 
provisions of the original DP bill." Truman charged that 
Eisenhower "has had an attack of moral blindness, for today 
he is willing to accept the very practices that identify the 
so-called 'master race' although he took a leading part in 
liberating Europe from their domination," 

2. The following day, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, ex-Presi- 
dent of the Zionist Organization of America, expressed "shock 
that an irresponsible statement of that character could be 
made. The attempt by implication to identify a man like 
General Eisenhower with anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism, 
is just not permissible even in the heat of a campaign." 

3. Please instruct Mr. Vidal to make out a check for $100 
to the National Conference of Christians and Jews.* 

But Paar's sense of fair play always overwhelms his other 
instincts, and so, on February 5, a week after my appearance, 
he announced that since I was out of the country, he would 
not criticize me while I was gone: no sir, not Jack Paar. 

PAAR. I am, however., more than ever leaving Mr. Buckley 
out of it [understand] worried about what is called the 
"radical Right" after what happened over the weekend in 
California. There were the bombing of two ministers' 
homes out there by what they call the "radical right wing," 
and that's a shocking thing tome... almost kitted a baby 
in a crib 

DOWNS. I think wouldn't it be fair also, Jack y to say that Mr. 
Buckley would certainly not be a party ever to the bomb* 
ing of somebody's home? You know, that's 

PAAR. . . . Oh, I can't believe he would But this climate of 

mistrust that's sprung up in this country by the now ex- 

* Sequel? G. Vidal declined a) to pay over tBe $100 or b) to give the 
reasons why lie feels justified in cMngmg to the belief that I, Rabbi Silver 
et td. are irresponsible liars. 


treme Right really frightens me. It does. The same as it 
did with the Left, only more so because the Right they're 
now throwing bombs and that scares the hell out of me. 
I dont know how you feel about it. 

Downs felt very bad about it. 

Moral? Forget about Paar. No, on second thought, one 
can't really. Any more than one can forget about atmospheric 
pressure. But why should he know better? Who is to teach 
him better? The intellectuals? Vidal? "Once an argument has 
been classified as 'positional/ " writes Eric Voegelin,* "it is 
regarded as having been demolished, since the 'position' 
attributed to it is always selected with pejorative intent. The 
choice of the position selected is an expression of the per- 
sonal antipathies of the individual critic; and the same argu- 
ment can therefore be attributed to any one of a variety of 
'positions/ according to what comes most readily to the 
critic's hand. The wealth of variation afforded by such tactics 
is well exemplified by the variety of classifications to which 
I have myself been subjected. On my religious 'position/ I 
have been classified as a Protestant, a Catholic, as anti- 
Semitic and as a typical Jew; politically, as a Liberal, a 
Fascist, a National Socialist and a Conservative; and on my 
theoretical position, as a Platonist, a Neo-Augustinian, a 
Thomist, a disciple of Hegel, an existentialist, a historical 
relativist and an empirical skeptic; in recent years the sus- 
picion has frequently been voiced that I am a Christian. All 
these classifications have been made by university professors 
and people with academic degrees. They give ample food for 
thought regarding the state of our universities." Thus the 
experience of a scholar, at the hands of his fellow scholars. 

* Freedom and Serfdom, An Anthology of Western Thought, edited by 
Albert Hwnold (D. Reidd, Dordrecht, Holland, 1961), p. 280. 

An Evening with Jack Paar [169 

How can one blame Jack Paar, or even Vidal: who will teach 
them manners? Who cares? 

They are scared folk ( Vidal wrote recently that conserva- 
tive thought in America is a 'liymn of hatred against the 
common man"); and scared people know not the manners 
of thought; they merely extrude, in James Burnham's fleeted 
phrase, "a squid-like ink of directionless feeling." They are 
frightened at any substantive challenge even to an orthodoxy 
they do not wholly understand. 

Anyway, here is a problem to which the Center for the 
Study of Democratic Institutions (ne The Fund for the Re- 
public) might donate some attention: namely, what kind of 
problem is it, and what are its ramifications, when the intel- 
lectual and the vulgarian unite so gladly to exhibit their 
ignorance to the great public? What does it bode for us? 
Once upon a time an intellectual stood to lose face after a 
display of malevolent ignorance. It doesn't seem to make any 
difference any more 

And surely it is some sort of a threat to the national sense 
of humor, on which of course democratic institutions rely at 
moments of special stress, when a professional comedian can 
sum up his indictment in the following terms: 

PAAE. He is [even] anti-self determination for colonial peo- 
ples Her es the kind of thing Mr, Buckley has said. {An 

interviewer once asked him] "You mean that the colored 
nations of Africa should not have the right of self-de- 

He said: "No, not until they are ready to form govern- 

And they said: "Wett, when do you think they will be?* 
He said: "When they stop eating each other" 
That's what Mr. Buckley said. And there's that whole lack 
of humanity I think in his philosophy. 


Tuesday. Kempton writes today that statistics are irrel- 
evant, that they are not nearly so useful as "free intuition." 
Kempton's free intuition has informed him that the steel 
companies could sell their products much more cheaply and 
still pay labor more. The companies irked K by putting on a 
statistical passion play whose climacteric shows that if next 
summer the steel unions should go after, and get, higher 
wages, the American companies will no longer be able to 
compete with foreign steel companies. K is unimpressed, and 
cites the electrical companies' lowering of their prices (by 
as much as 25 percent) between 1955 and 1958, after TVA 
refused to buy American because it could buy cheaper 
abroad. By refining production methods, the American com- 
panies worked their way back into the competitive picture. 
Moral? Go, Steel, and do likewise. Manufacturers should 
keep their production costs down, and operate efficiently. 

But Kempton is temperamentally incapable of understand- 
ing that labor is a cost, the principal cost; and if he has any 
idea how the electrical companies brought down cost with- 
out doing all those things (automation, anti-makework pro- 
visions, incentive payments for overproduction) that the 
United Steelworkers Union is prepared to strike to keep the 
companies from doing, he does not tell us. Kempton's creed 
is: Everybody is a human being (which is true), and human 
beings can't be cost-accounted (which is only half true), and 
therefore, somehow, all economies must begin after paying 
out wages. Ad rent depersonalizations are necessary to social 


A Fortnight with Murray Kempton [171 

life, and are not any more inhumane intrinsically than the 
motions of the mother counting noses before deciding how 
much dinner to cook. 

Ah, the capacity for systematic thought! K never had it 
(he is a poet, not an exegete). Could he be got to under- 
stand, even, that if you gave your own workers everything 
they wanted, and then ( assuming you were not bankrupted) 
set out to cut down costs from that point on, you're not going 
to make up the loss by simply cutting down executive sal- 
aries? You will shop around more ruthlessly than ever for 
parts and tools and piecework, to get by with the lowest 
possible cost; which means that you will be patronizing and 
encouraging the growth of firms which are not dominated 
by the behemoth unions. A most generous employer, con- 
sistent with the latitude given him by the competitive situa- 
tion, can raise his workers' salaries to a point but then he 
must economize elsewhere, and he will drive the hardest 
bargains (that is what K must mean by "making adjust- 
ments") whose effect is to make impossible at the second 
echelon removed the kind of munificence he himself has 
been able (temporarily) to extend to his own men. The 
struggle, then, becomes one for politico-economic leverage: 
Which union exercises the greatest political and economic 
power? That's where the money is. Other people's money. 
Anywhere you turn socialism, capitalism, distributism 
human beings do become, in the world of calculations, dis- 
embodied: whence economic (and political) systems. Every 
time K buys this pair of shoes rather than that one because 
the first is cheaper, he is doing what he would not permit the 
steel companies to do. He cannot grasp the implicit contra- 
diction in (a) encouraging the steelworkers to increase their 
wage demands, and (b) looking, as a consumer, for the 
cheaper product to buy. . . . 

What would happen, one wonders, if the Devil should take 
the scales from Kempton's eyes, and let him see the world 
of economics? I say tibe Devil, because the Lord would not 


do so fiendish a thing. What a terrible end! His muse would 
dry up, and the pagan love song to humankind which he has 
been trilling for twenty years would get all hung up, under 
the discipline of keys, and measures, and clefs. A calamity, 
in a word: for Kempton, though he does not realize that 
theory is as liberating in social science as dogma is in the- 
ology, nevertheless, for all his confusion is as necessary to 
humane industrial organization as Sam Goldwyn is to idio- 
matic English. Linguistic solecisms remain solecisms just the 
same, as do also economic solecisms. But they have their 
uses, some of them wholly unpredictable. My guess is the 
Communists moved with whatever caution it can be said 
they did between 1953 and 1960 because they hadn't the 
least idea what Eisenhower was talking about, and thought a 
little prudence might be in order. 

Wednesday. One of the most satisfying things about K is his 
impartial iconoclasm. There are a few, a very few, graven 
images he won't profane some because he truly admires 
them (A. Stevenson, E. Fitzgerald); some because they are 
too overwhelmingly ridiculous (E. Roosevelt); and he tires 
of over-kill, except perhaps when dealing with institutional- 
ized enemies (J. Eastland). I remember his writing when 
Roy Cohn was finally and ignominiously forced out of 
McCarthy's Committee, "So help me God, I feel sorry for Roy 
Co/m" which I am sure he did, as well he might have, hav- 
ing for months galloped miles ahead of the posse (never did 
so many supererogate upon so little! ) . It is as distasteful to 
use a machine gun to deliver the coup de grace as it is to 
have to wait for the fourth coda to terminate a Tschaikovsky 
symphony. In 1960 he didn't want to go to Chicago. "If I do? 
he told me, TH knock Nixon-ifs like funk. But I like NixonT* 
He does feel sorry for the mangled corpse; but it is also for 

artistic reasons he feels the need to back away 

Today he goes after Robert Wagner again. K, of course, 
immediately saw through the phoniness of the anti-DeSapio 

A Fortnight with Murray Kempton [173 

frenzy of last summer and fall (ironically, his employer was 
much responsible for stirring things up). K passed the day 
of the execution with DeSapio, following him around every- 
where, closely observing his manners, and reacting prodigally 
to his remarkable personal gentility ("I sometimes think that 
if Carmine DeSapio were running against Lucifer he would 
consider it ungentlemanly to mention that little trouble in 
heaven"). When it was finally clear that he had been over- 
thrown by the ideological janissaries and the playboy- 
reformers, there were still the conventional and highly 
poignant rituals to go through. And then DeSapio walked out 
alone, after midnight, into the streets. "His visitor [K's won- 
derfully unobtrusive way of designating himself, in all his 
interviews] left him and walked into the streets and noticed 
that there were no slums any more, and no landlords,, and 
the Age of Pericles had begun because we were rid of Car- 
mine DeSapio. One had to walk carefully to avoid being 
stabbed by the lilies bursting in the pavements. I wish the 
reformers luck with less Christian sincerity than Carmine 
DeSapio does. I will be a long time forgiving them this one." 
Enter Wagner. "The Mayor of New York" he writes today, 
opening his column, "has hired a $40,000 a year team to im- 
prove his press relations. His image in the press already seems 
to any detached observer somewhat better than it should 
be." (He likes a good first sentence or two, as Pegler does. 
All K's sentences are good, of course it is even suggested, 
by a critic on whom they happen to cloy, that they are too 
good, "If you try to slay your audience with every sentence," 
the critic once wrote me, "you run the great danger that you 
might succeed.") And then he goes after Wagner on highly 
demagogic grounds (when K is putting forth demagogy, he 
almost surely doesn't realize that it is what he is doing: he is 
still enough the old socialist to react conventionally to the 
old demonology . . .). "If I were a union electrician at this 
hour., I should suggest that someone be found to preach to 
me besides a mayor who took a 28 percent salary increase 


two weeks ago!' As ever, the little-manliness. It is utterly 
irrelevant to the question whether an electrician should get 
full pay for a 20-hour week (that is what the electricians in 
the instant case were demanding), whether the mayor of 
New York, commonly understood as occupying the nation's 
third most important electoral office, should get a salary 
increase from $30,000 to $40,000. And it makes no difference 
at all that the mayor getting the increase is, so far as being 
mayor goes, a notorious incompetent. He is certainly not an 
incompetent at getting to be mayor. Modern democracy 
holds that no man who wins landslide political victories is 
an incompetent, and on such matters modern democracy 
is sovereign. But the crack about the salary turns out to be 
just an aside, and K ends up back on the subject of the press 
agent. "[Wagner] is the full flower of Menckens law that no 
man ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the 
American voter. I resent having to pay taxes for press agents 
to protect a man whose magnificent effrontery already makes 
him invulnerable' 9 There aren't six men in the country who 
could have composed that last sentence. 

Thursday. If somebody is on his way down esteem's ladder 
whom K as a matter of principle disapproves of (most Rich 
Men, most Important Men of Affairs, all conceited men), he 
will do everything he can to push him on down until he is 
about to hit bottom, and when he is almost there, there K is, 
to soften the shock. Today he spends time on the eminent 
Carlino, the Republican Speaker of the New York State 
Assembly, who has been swinishly requested by a young 
Democrat troublemaker to elaborate on a coincidence: 
namely, that Carlino is a) a director of a fallout shelter manu- 
facturing firm, and b) a legislative sponsor of a compulsory 
fallout shelter building program. Carlino got a big hand when 
he made his appearance at the opening of the legislature 
a show of solidarity from men who for the most part know 
that there, but for the lack of sufficient opportunity, stood 

A Fortnight with Murray Kempton [175 

they. Still, there was a trace of something in the applause. . . . 
"Carlino has not always been a pleasant jailer; the Democrats 
enjoy the obvious sag in his imperial being" K will keep his 
eyes on Carlino, and if tilings go too badly for him, he'll give 
him a helping hand, you may be sure. 

The big noise that day was Rockefeller, come in person 
with his annual message for the legislature. K is a socialist, 
a formal socialistto the extent he is formally anything at 
all. Two years ago, after having let his membership in the 
Socialist Party lapse, he wrote to reinstate himself and, along 
with his dues, submitted a repentant and lyrical letter, which 
was printed in Dissent where, as for the prodigal son, the 
editors wept for joy. Why did he do it? It is a form of institu- 
tional self-flagellation. "I am an Org-bureau man," Whittaker 
Chambers once told me tenderly, when I questioned his state- 
ment in a letter that until the day he died he would vote the 
straight Republican ticket, no matter who was on it. These 
are the psychic requirements of intensely individualistic 
people. I know another genius, unfortunately without the 
skill to popularize his great learning and striking literary 
powers. He wrote recently to tell me that he had joined the 
John Birch Society exactly the same thing. One would think 
K, as a card-carrying socialist, would welcome all steps gen- 
erally conducing to socialism, e.g., Rockefeller's continual 
enlargement of the office of the State of New York; but K 
does no such thing, partly because socialism really bores 
him, partly because he is more struck by human ironies and 
formalisms and hypocrisies in any political situation than by 
political vectors. So: "[Rockefeller's] address was a hash 
of social uplift notions ranging from a higher minimum wage 
to stronger civil rights legislation" And then a gentle crack 
apiece at the attitudinizing of the political parties, and a 

smile over the congruent irony of it all "The Republicans 

sat in a silence perhaps induced by the reflection that the 
Socialists are everywhere; the Democrats issued a statement 
declaring that the Governor was a petty bourgeois opportu- 


nist deceiving the toilers and then everyone trooped up to 
the Executive Mansion to share the Governors buffet." That 
is vintage Kempton. 


Tuesday. Incomparable. Absolutely nowhere else, save pos- 
sibly in National Review, can you find such a thing. It is 
practically all quotations, and the very best evidence that 
selective quotations are all that is really needed to finger the 
nation's ironic pulse. "Comes now Public Document 75452'" 
K announces starchily, "from the Subcommittee of the Sub- 
committee of the Senate Committee on Commerce., the sober 
record of the fall of 1960 when America was. deciding 
whether to move again: 

VICE-PBESEDENT NESON: Could I ask you one favor, Jack? 
JACK PAAB: Yes sir; you can ask any favor you'd like. 
VICE-PBESTDENT NIXON: Could we have your autograph for 
our girls? 

"The notes on that particular meeting at the summit 
(PAAR: I can't tell you how much this means to our show. 
It gives us "class/) are the opening exhibit in a Senate report 
labeled, 'The Joint Appearances of Senator John F. Kennedy 
and Vice-President Richard M. Nixon and other 1960 Cam- 
paign Presentations. 9 That was September 11 > I960, and 
Nixon had packed [for the White House]. The Kennedys ral- 
lied two weeks later. 



MBS. KENNEDY: Can you say hello? 


MBS. KENNEDY: Here, do you want to sit up in bed with me? 

MB. COLLINGWOOD: Oh, isn't she a darling? 

MBS. KENNEDY: Now, look at the three bears. 

COLLINGWOOD: What is the dolly's name? 

MBS. KENNEDY: All right, what is the dolly's name? 

CAROLINE: I didn't name her yet 

A Fortnight with Murray Kempton [177 

(It reminds me of Vincent Sheean, King of Gemutlichkeit, 
exuberantly opening the first recorded interview by a West- 
ern newspaperman with Stalin, and trying to put Stalin at 
ease. "Comrade Stalin, all the world over you are associated 
with your pipe, and here I sit down with you and I see no 
pipe! Where is your pipe?" "I left it at home/' said Stalin.) 

K continues, after having quoted much more of the same 
land of thing: "This painful, vulgar record evokes [the cam- 
paign] again, but the mystery of [Nixon s] collapse taunts us 
yet. Still it was a terribly close election and who can say 
what small mistake cost him it? 

"There is one clue: 

BILL HENRY, OF NBC: I am so fascinated with that little 

kitten. Does the kitten have a name? 

JULEE NIXON: Yes, its name is Bitsy Blue Eyes. 

"Maybe Caroline saved the package when she held off 
naming the doll." 

Wednesday. Rubirosa has come to town. Fulminations, of 
course, are in order. But how pleasant fulminations can be, 
at the hands of a master. I wonder: why is he not syndicated? 
Is there only a single city in America cosmopolitan enough 
to receive him? The answer must be Yss, there is only one 
city in America cosmopolitan enough to receive him. And to 
its credit, it is the newspaper in that city whose fundamental- 
ist leftism would not normally countenance K's ideological 
appoggiaturas, yet nevertheless it continues to serve uncom- 
plaining? as his host.* Granted, he performs for the Lib- 
eral Establishment. Kempton is, on all important matters, 
Safe. (Dogmatic leftism is like junk.) But the point is, how 
does he perform? Contrast what follows with the typical ful- 
minations of the editorial page of the same paper. "[Rubirosa] 
was Inspector of Embassies for the Dominican Foreign Min- 
istry , a position pom which he was removed by his country s 

* Mr. Kempton has gone to the New Republic, as editor-at-large. 


new government last week after 24 years of carrying his dip- 
lomatic passport into some of the most distinguished boudoirs 
in the architecture of international relations." Rubirosa's 
presence, it transpires, had been politely requested by a 
grand jury seeking to know the circumstances of one of 
Trujillo's uncannily efficacious death wishes for his political 
enemies, this one dating back to the thirties. But Rubirosa 
declined to go. The evidence against him was "admittedly 
wispy and arose from the unfortunate coincidence that any 
member of the Dominican Republic's tiny middle class is apt 
to be related either to a victim or to an assassin or to both" 
Sociologists please note how, in one sentence, to describe 
an era. 

Thursday. The undeniable labor union is, of course, the prin- 
cipal extra-government threat, in America today, to individ- 
ual or, for that matter, collective freedom. He knows this, 
and writes often as though he were, if only casually, some- 
how aware of it: but the effect is like that of a cardinal writ- 
ing about Pope Alexander VII somehow, when you are with 
the rascal, you have got to come out sounding pro-Pope. The 
situation is this: A tough, strategic, and solidly entrenched 
New York labor union is in a position to simply turn off the 
construction business in New York, bringing unemployment 
to hundreds of thousands and panic to the financial houses. 
The energumen is Local 3 of the Electricians' Union. This is 
a satrapy inherited by one Van Arsdale, a labor aristocrat of 
a breed which an American Djilas ought to write about. This 
much K does not shrink from. "[Arsdale's union is] that ulti- 
mate peril to the established order: the second generation of 
established wealth afflicted with a social conscience" You 
will see that K ? s use of the word "afflicted" is sarcastic. 

Remember that: you are otherwise liable to forget it 'Van 

Arsdale inherited Local 3 although no one who knows him 
would deny that he improved the property" K loves an 
oxymoron: "and here he was talking about the general wel- 

A Fortnight with Murray Kempt on [179 

fare. Society, he said, needed the shorter work week; there 
was no other way to establish full employment and opportu- 
nity for the young" 

Now K knows, and has made clear, that he has introduced 
us to Mr. Mountebank. But before going on he asks himself, 
as always he does provided he is dealing with someone who, 
loosely speaking, is associated with the American Left, or 
Left's institutions: Is he a nice guy? What is Van Arsdale 
like? (I myself don't know Van Arsdale. But I wish Kempton 
would go a little less on his own personal soundings. He 
might reflect on Albert Jay Nock's lament, surveying his 
career as first editor of The Freeman, "Where talent is the 
question, I have always had the surest sense, and would be 
worth a ducal salary to any one in search of it. But as a judge 
of character, I have never been able to distinguish a survivor 
of the saints from the devil's rag-baby.") "I like Van Arsdale 
better than any other -functioning labor leader I know 9 pre- 
pare for a dividend: almost always conjoined, by K, to any 
character reference which might appear sentimental "in 
fact, I even like him! 9 

"But" well, now, but what? What about a union which 
proposes to extort by the use of blackmail a fee for its services 
which will seriously affect the budget of millions of New 
Yorkers? Will K proclaim a Hundred Years' War, as he would 
have against the electrical companies under like circum- 
stances? Or against doctors, some of whom earn, because 
they have no Van Arsdale, less than a New York City electri- 
cian of Local 3? Here K is all-ideologue, though like Ruba- 
shov, he knows, isolates, and even revels in the weaknesses 
of the heroes whom fortune has visited upon him. "But hered- 
itary wealth is, of course, seldom logical; it is insulated 
against ruthless scrutiny of the source of Us wealth. For 
example, the nation should plan as a nation, but I should 
hate to be a New Jersey contractor attempting to seU figures 
in Local &s territory. There should be an opportunity for aU y 
but Local 3 is for ail practical purposes a closed union, limited 


loy genetics; I should hate to be a Puerto Rican bringing only 
a shining face and an open heart to my application for an 
apprentice permit" Sounds bad for Van Arsdale? Wait. 
"[But] if society [how did society get into this?] denies his 
urge to serve the common laborer [when did that happen?], 
he will at least serve the elite. And in the process, he does us 
all the service of reminding us for the first time in years of 
how a union ought to act, which is outrageously" The last 
refuge of ideologues is the sociologization of plain matters 
of right and wrong. "Show me" K concludes, "# good union 
that isnt occasionally outrageous." Article 3, Section 4, Para- 
graph 5, anybody's ethical code book: Beware the 'liuman- 
izing" sin. . . . 


Tuesday. K is fascinated by the Right especially by the hard 
Right, so-called, though today he writes about routine Re- 
publican developments, ( "I have discovered the definition of 
a radical" he told me once over the telephone. "It is anyone 
whose name is preceded by 'so-called.'" He had had diffi- 
culty, a few days before, getting a Montgomery taxi driver 
who would consent to take him to the home of Martin Luther 
King. He solved the problem by asking a driver to take him 
to the home of "the so-called Martin Luther King/') K is the 
principal chronicler of hard-Right activities, and knows his 
way about the Right labyrinth with ease. He has no trouble 
at all mixing easily with those whom the next morning he 
will berate with a passionate wit. As a matter of fact, K has 
no enemies, and that is an unusual estate for a man with so 
forked and active a tongue. "Everybody likes me/' lie told 
me once from a hospital bed. "That is one of my major fail- 
ings. For instance, take my book it got only favorable re- 
views!" He was grievously disappointed. His book was not 
seriously criticized because it is hard seriously to criticize 
Kempton, as it is difficult to criticize seriously whom else? 
I have given the matter five minutes' thought and I can't 

A Fortnight with Murray Kempton [181 

come up with anyone so intensely partisan to whom all is 
forgiven, and whose most outrageous statements are allowed 
to rest in peace. Perhaps there is no one else with that blend 
of art, compassion, and personal appeal. One night sitting 
at the dais at a testimonial dinner for Roy Cohn, before the 
festivities began, I was talking to him across the table. Some- 
one nudged me from behind. "Do you know who you are 
talking to?" Senator Joe McCarthy whispered. "Yes," I said. 
Actually, if the Reign of Terror had known K (or read him), 
he'd have got on fine with him (McCarthy had no difficulty 
with infinitely less personable left-wingers). He sought 
merely to do me a favor he was the most considerate of men. 
Often he had been ambushed, and he thought perhaps I 
might at that moment have my foot on a land mine ( as it 
turned out, I had). 

This morning K speaks of the emergence of Romney as a 
presidential contender. Like a gravometer, he is attracted to 
the irony in the situation. ". . . a former lobbyist -for the 
Aluminum Company of America and present $150,000 auto 
executive comes forth now as spokesman for the neglected 
common man, and the Republicans who dislike him may 
have to take him and Walter Reuther who likes him will have 
to find reasons to fight him." K is always surprised when 
undiscriminating institutional obligations rope in other men. 
But he also sympathzes with them, for more than the usual 
reasons; he is himself so often heaved about by ideology's 
wayward storms. 

Wednesday. Black Wednesday. He sulks over the West Vir- 
ginia Medical Association's successful resistance to the at- 
tempted bureaucratization of medicine by the Kerr-Mills 
Bill (Senior Citizencare), and in spite of a grandiose literary 
whoop into the subject (a 150-word quotation from Heller's 
Catch 22, of dubious relevance), he leaves at least this 
reader feeling, Hooray for the doctors. 


Thursday. Back to the Right. A hilarious look Inside Sokol- 
sky, et al. "Sharonology is the study of the internal struggles 
of the American Right, as Kremlinology is the study of the 
internal struggles of the Politburo, the materials in both cases 
being incomprehensible documents and speakers' lists at din- 
ners. It takes its name from Sharon, Conn., birthplace of . . ." 
your visitor. K has spotted George Sokolsky going after anti- 
Communist evangelist Dr. Fred Schwarz. For unknown rea- 
sons, K does not treat the more exotic subject of Sokolsky's 
new-found enthusiasm for J. F. Kennedy and all his works, 
which is the buzz-buzz of the Right at this moment. "Sokol- 
sky has even taken after Dr. Fred Schwarz, director of the 
Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. Schwarz is an Australian, 
and Sokolsky feels that anti-Communism is an American 
enterprise; he is high tariff in all things!' Fulton Lewis, Jr., 
K observes, has become a security risk in some quarters of 
the hard Right because "[as] an honored speaker at the 
Human Events Forum in Washington the other day . ..he 
abused the privileges of the rostrum to attack certain un- 
identified flying objects who confuse the issue by thinking 
that everybody is a Communist." ( K is master of what Martin 
Greenberg, reviewing Randall Jarrell's imperishable Pictures 
at an Institution, called the "tall epigram/') What is Human 
Events? "[It is a newsletter with] certain leftist deviations 
(it is not quite convinced that the Public Health Service is 
consciously plotting to poison us all by fluoridating our 
water], but is respected by Robert Welch as a source of 
information on minor aspects of the conspiracy" 

Ah, the conspiracy. Dwight Macdonald once made a semi- 
sensible point, namely, that McCarthy's chronic exaggera- 
tions (I deny they were as exaggerated as Macdonald's ex- 
aggeration of them) had the especially mischievous effect of 
persuading the public, time after time deprived of its scalps, 
that in fact there were no serious Communist conspirators in 
our midst which of course (Macdonald's point) there are. 
Here Kempton is at his absolute, unbeatable worst. It has 

A Fortnight with Murray Kempton [183 

been said there is no theological question Billy Graham can- 
not vulgarize; so there is no issue touching the Communist 
problem that Murray Kempton cannot sentimentalize. The 
Communist enterprise, or at least that part of it that goes on 
in this country, is in his opinion opera bouffe ( Cosi Fan Tutti 
Atomica). I have never seen a pointed sentence by Murray 
Kempton on the subject of the Communist problem at home: 
once again, the systematic refusal to face the systematically 
demanding question: to which, in this case, among others, 
Sidney Hook has tried to face up to, systematically, in his 
book, Heresy Yes, Conspiracy No. "The trouble with Kemp- 
ton," Hook once said, "is he thinks with his stomach." (The 
trouble with Hook, says your visitor, is he doesn't think often 
enough with his stomach.) Hook is right here. I give you the 
locus classicus, K's report on the election of the new president 
of the CPUSA. "It is impossible to look at Miss [Elizabeth 
Gurley] Flynn without collapsing into the molasses of the 
American dream. She is the aunt Dorothy longed to get back 

to from Oz If the old-fashioned virtues really had any 

impact on our culture, the disenchanted of our society looiild 

rush to this dear sister's bosom [She has} a face that 

would be irresistible on the label of an apple pie mix," Had 
enough? Well, this apple-pie hater is going to give you more. 
. . . "The evil is not them [the members of the Communist 
Party], but a society which . . . demands a vast establishment 
of policemen, Congressional committees., and disgusting laws 
to protect us from them. [! Who on earth would undertake 
to protect Kempton from Them? That is more than an affluent 
society could afford!] You could sum up the domestic history 
of a dozen years just by printing a picture of Elizabeth Gur- 
ley Flynn and putting under it the caption "From 1948 to 
196- a great nation was afraid of this woman? 'But what 
generation unborn could possibly be expected to believe 

There are other problems more likely to urge themselves 
on generations unborn. The incumbent young generation in 


Cuba will wonder less why some Cubans were afraid of Fidel 
Castro, than why other Cubans were not. Kempton's glands 
are, alas, no substitute for the humorless appraisal of the 
role of the Communist parties in the free world. He is fore- 
most among those the burden of whose thought is that it is 
the grave responsibility of the free world to ensure the 
serenity of those in their midst who would subvert their 
freedom. E. Flynn's face is, after all, no more pleasing than 
poor Kerensky's. One has the feeling that the poet Kempton, 
whose grasp of reality so often surpasses that of the hum- 
drummers whom destiny has charged with the evolution of 
our destiny, is resigned to turning over the future to the 
prosaic men who are poetically benighted; just so long as 
he can be around to write the requiem for our time. A fine 
requiem it would be. And your visitor, to the extent he is 
ever tempted, where such solemn issues are involved, would 
care greatly to see that requiem, for it would be monumen- 
tally grand. But it would be easier reading if one knew that 
unborn generations would never wake. 


"WHERE is Renoir's 'Girl with the Watering CanT 
I asked the attendant at the entrance to the National Gallery. 
I walked up the flight of stairs, turned left through two gal- 
leries, and spotted her near the corner. It was only 12:25 and 
I had the feeling he would be there at exactly 12:30, the 
hour we had set. I sat down on the ottoman in the center of 
the room. I could see through the vaulted opening into the 
adjacent galleries. I saw him approaching. It could only have 
been he, or Alfred Hitchcock. Five months had gone by 
since he had been at my home in Connecticut, but we were 
never out of touch; almost every Sunday afternoon I would 
call him, and we would talk, at length, discursively, and 
laugh together, between the strophes of his melancholy. 
(And every now and thenrarely, now that he was back at 

school I would receive one of those letters.) The Sundav 

/ .> 

before, he had told me he was to be in Washington on the 
8th of June. 

I was surprised he loathed Washington, and probably had 
not been there three times in ten years, although he lived 
only two hours away. Perhaps, I wondered, one of those 
infrequent meetings with Nixon though Nixon was in Cali- 
fornia now. Perhaps yet one more meeting with the FBI. 
I had told him I would schedule my own business for the 
same day. He had asked me to keep the evening open, and 
we agreed to meet for a private lunch. "You've guessed whafs 
up, haven't you?" he said, his face wreathed in smiles. "I 
haven't the least idea." "John!" he said proudly. We went off 



talking excitedly. His son would be married that afternoon, 
and I was to go to the wedding and the reception, "Where 
sjiall we eat?" "I don't know/' I said I couldn't, on the spur 
of the moment, think of the name of a single small restaurant 
in Washington which might be reasonably proof against 
Chambers' being recognized we had had that difficulty so 
often in New York, when he used to come to National Review 
on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. "I can't think of any place," 
he said helplessly. "I know! 7 ' I interjected. "We must eat at 
I/Espionage" He smiled. 

It wasn't open. We lunched somewhere, and talked and 
talked for the hour and a half we had. We walked then to 
the Statler and sat in the corner of the huge lobby. At that 
moment a reporter I had recently come to know approached 
me. I rose quickly and stood directly between him and Cham- 
bers, whose anxiety for the privacy of his son was intense 
(the press all but took over at his daughter's wedding seven 
years before, and the entire family had taken elaborate pre- 
cautions to keep this wedding out of public view). The 
reporter talked on and on, but my taciturn answers finally 
discouraged him; we shook hands and he left. I turned 
around. But Chambers was gone. 

We met again at seven, in the blistering heat, at the church 
at Georgetown where a few months earlier John Fitzgerald 
Kennedy, Jr. had been baptized. Whittaker and his wife 
Esther, slight and beautiful, with her incomparable warmth; 
a genial couple, old friends of the Chambers from Baltimore; 
with his wife and sons, his steadfast friend Ralph de Tole- 
dano, who met Chambers during the Hiss trial, and wrote 
Seeds of Treason; the bride's parents, a sister of the bride and 
a friend of the groom. We went from there to a private room 
at the Statler, where we drank champagne (for the first time 
in my life, I saw him take a drink) and ate dinner. Whittaker 
was quiet, but I think he was very happy. I thought back 
on a letter several years old. "Johns parents live for John, and 
for little else. In 1952, I sat and reckoned so many years 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [187 

I must live to get John to his majority. It seemed an impos- 
sibly long course. Now each day is subtracted from the year 

that is left The day I finished the last section of Witness, 

I took the copy into town and put it in the mail myself. Then 
I returned to the little house at Medfield, where, for about 
two years, I had written alone. I sat down at my now need- 
less table and thought that now, perhaps, God would permit 
me to die. I did not really wish this much less, I now know 
than I then supposed. And I could not pray for it because 
of the children. I thought that I must live until they reached 
their majority, at least, so that they would be beyond the 
reach of men in the legal sense. They would be their own 
man and woman. In Johns case, this meant some five or six 
years. It seemed to me an almost unendurable span of time. 
In the past year I have found myself inwardly smiling be- 
cause only a few months of that span are left. I have been 

saying to myself: I am free at last " 

The bride and groom left. We got up to go. After saying 
good night all the way around, I drew Whit aside and made 
him listen to an irreverent story, which shook him with silent 
laughter. I never knew a man who so enjoyed laughing. I 
waved my hand at him and went out with the de Toledanos. 
As we stepped into the elevator I saw him framed by the 
door, his hand and Esther's clutched together., posing while 
his son-in-law popped a camera in his face; a grim reminder 
of all those flashbulbs ten years before. I never saw him 
again. He died a month later, on July 9, 1961. Free at last. 

I first met Chambers in 1954. An almost total silence had 
closed in on him. Two years earlier he had published Witness. 
In the months before the book appeared there was a con- 
siderable nervous excitement. The book had been postponed 
several times. Chambers would not let the publishers have it 
until he was quite through with it. (He told me with vast 
amusement that a prominent journalist had volunteered to 
ghost the book for him.) When the preface of Witness ap- 


peared as a feature in The Saturday Evening Post, that issue 
of the magazine sold a startling half million extra copies on 
the newsstand. The book came out with a great flurry. The 
bitterness of the Hiss trial had not by any means subsided. 
For some of the reviewers, Hiss's innocence had once been 
a fixed rational conviction, then blind faith; now it was rank 
superstition, and they bent under the force of an overwhelm- 
ing book. But the man was not grasped by the reviewers, 
who treated Witness as a passion play acted out by arche- 
types. "I am a heavy man" (Ernst Mensch), Chambers once 
wrote me, to apologize for staying two days at my home. 
There is a sense in which that was true. But he never appre- 
ciated, as others did, the gaiety of his nature, the appeal of 
his mysterious humor, the instant communicability of his 
overwhelming personal tenderness; his friends I think espe- 
cially of James Agee took endless and articulate pleasure 
from his company. 

Witness was off to a great start. But, surprisingly, it did 
not continue to sell in keeping with its spectacular send-off. 
The length of the book was forbidding; and the trial, in any 
case, was three years old, and the cold sweat had dried. 
Alger Hiss was in prison, and now the political furore cen- 
tered about McCarthy. Those who did not know the book, 
and who were not emotionally committed either to Cham- 
bers' guilt or innocence, seemed to shrink even from a vicari- 
ous involvement in the controversy, to a considerable extent 
because of the dark emanations that came out of Chambers' 
emotive pen, depressing when reproduced, as was widely 
done, in bits and snatches torn from the narrative. "It had 
been my impression," Hugh Kermer, the author and critic, 
wrote me recently, c *before reading Witness, that his mind 
moved, or wallowed, in a setting of continuous apocalypse 
from which he derived gloomy satisfactions, of an immobiliz- 
ing sort, the large scale of Witness makes things much 
clearer. It is surprisingly free from rhetoric, and it makes 
clear the genuine magnitude of the action which was his life: 

The Last Jears of Whittaker Chambers [189 

a Sophoclean tragedy in slow motion, years not hours. I think 
Communism had an appeal for him which he doesn't go into: 
the appeal of large-scale historic process, to which to sur- 
render the self. The self awoke and fought its way clear by 
a superbly individual action (look how his attention comes 
awake when he is itemizing his essentials for escape; a 
weapon,, a car, etc. ) . As a Communist he sleepwalked to heavy 
Dostoyevskian music . . . the constant note was surrender 
to a process larger than himself; and the heroic quality 
comes out in the interplay between this essentially musical 
mode of existence (the terminology is Wyndham Lewis') 
and his constant awareness of the possibility, the necessity, 
of equilibrium, choice, the will poised freely amid possibil- 
ities. It's in the texture of the Witness prose, the narrative 
line making its way freely through the rhythms, sonorities, 
declarations; through the organ-tones of plight." 

In 1954 1 asked if I might visit him. He had written a long- 
standing friend, Henry Regnery, the publisher of my book 
on Senator McCarthy, to praise the book, while making clear 
his critical differences with McCarthy, (". . . for the Right to 
tie itself in any way to Senator McCarthy is suicide. Even if 
he were not what, poor man, he has become, he cant lead 
anybody because he cant think"} A few months after the 
book was published, he was struck down by a heart attack, 
and it was vaguely known that he spent his days in and out 
of a sickbed, from which the likelihood was that he would 
never again emerge physically whole. He managed one piece 
for Life during that period; otherwise he was silent. I had 
every reason to believe that I would be visiting Jeremiah 
lying alongside a beckoning tomb. The letter telling me I 
might come began with gratifying vivacity. But the gloom 
closed in before he had come to the end of the page. "The 
score" he wrote, "as the points are checked up, daily and 
boldly, more and more convinces me that the total situation 
is hopeless, past repair, organically irremediable. Almost the 
only position of spiritual dignity left to men, therefore, is a 


kind of stoic silence, made bearable by the amusement of 
seeing, hearing and knowing the full historical irony that its 
victims are blind and deaf to, and disciplined by the act of 
withholding comment on what we know" And then inevi- 
tably, because Chambers did not want to curse a stranger 
with his own profound gloom: "This may well be more of 
a posture than a position, and, happily ? none of us will be 
permitted to assume it, or could, without violating our own 
articulate imperative." 

I found him in bed. The doctor had forbidden him even to 
raise his head. And yet he was the liveliest man I think I ever 
met. I could not imagine such good humor from a very sick 
man, let alone a man possessed by the conviction that night 
was closing in all over the world, and privately tortured by 
his continuing fear that the forces aligned against him would 
contrive to reorder history, impose upon the world the 
ghastly lie that he had testified falsely against Alger Hiss, 
and so erase his witness, his expiation for ten years' com- 
plicity with Communism. ("If the West cannot use the Hiss 
Case to its own advantage, the Hiss forces will use the case, 
against the West; a kind of historical law of opposite and 
equal reactions seems to be in play") We did not, of course, 
speak of Hiss, nor did we for several months; though later 
he spoke of him, and of the case, with relaxation and candor. 
But we must have talked about everything else, and I left 
later than I should have, hustled anxiously to the door by a 
wife who knew she was all but powerless to enforce the 
doctor's rules. 

As he began to recover he was, for a while, greatly re- 
newed by a physical and spiritual energy which were dialec- 
tically at odds with his organic ill health and his intellectual 
commitment to the futility of all meliorative action. I talked 
with him about the magazine I proposed to publish and 
asked whether he would join the staff. To my overwhelming 
surprise the answer was, Yeshe might do just that. But not, 
he warned, if the journal was to be a sectarian enterprise, 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [191 

intended for a semiprivate circulation. We corresponded 
through the summer. He was to make up his mind definitely 
during the fall, after we visited again. I made the mistake in 
one of my letters of expressing exorbitant hopes for the role 
the magazine might hope to play in human affairs. He dashed 
them down in a paragraph unmatched in the literature of 
supine gloom, even though finally resisting despair. "It is 
idle" he rebuked me, "to talk about preventing the wreck of 
Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within. That 
is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a finger- 
nail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the 
faggots, and bury them secretly in a flowerpot against the 
day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to 
believe that there was once something else, that something 
else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and 
the fortifying knowledge that there were those who, at the 
great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of 
hope and truth." 

The tokens of hope and truth were not, he seemed to be 
saying, to be preserved by a journal of opinion, not by 
writers or thinkers, but only by activists, and I was to know 
that he considered a publication the right kind of publica- 
tionnot a word, but a deed. Though Chambers was a pas- 
sionately literary man, always the intellectual, insatiably and 
relentlessly curious, in the last analysis it was action, not 
belletrism, that moved him most deeply. He could write, as 
he did of Arthur Koestler: *7/ you re-read Darkness at Noon 
at this late hour you Witt see how truly it is a book of poetry. 
I re-read it recently. I came to the part where, after his break- 
down, Rubashov is permitted a few minutes of air in the 
prison yard. Beside Mm trots the Central Asian peasant who 
has been jailed because, f at the pricking of the children* the 
peasant and his wife had barricaded themselves in their 
house and 'unmasked themselves as reactionaries' Looking 
sideways at Rubashov in his sly peasant way, he says; 7 do 
not think they have left much of Jour Honor and me* Then, 


in the snow of the prison yard and under the machine-gun 
towers, he remembers Jioto it was when the snow melted in 
the mountains of Asia, and -flowed in torrents. Then they 
drove the sheep into the hills, rivers of them, 'so many that 
Jour Honor could not count them alV I cannot go on reading 
because I can no longer see the words. To think that any 
man of my time could have written anything so heart-tear- 
ingly beautiful, 'wonderful, causing tears' " 

But in time I began to understand why in 1932 lie resigned 
as editor of the Communist New Masses, where he had 
already earned an international reputation as a writer, to go 
scurrying about the streets of Washington, Baltimore and 
New York, carrying pocketfuls of negatives and secret phone 
numbers and invisible ink. . . . "One of the great failures of 
Witness is tliat there was no time or place to describe the 
influences, other than immediate historical influences, that 
brought me to communism" he wrote me. *7 came to com- 
munism . . . above all under the influence of the NarodnikL 
It has been deliberately forgotten, but, in those days, Lenin 
urged us to revere the Narodniki 'those who went with 
bomb or revolver against this or that individual monster* 
Unlike most Western Communists, who became Communists 
under the influence of the Social Democrats, I remained un- 
der the spiritual influence of the Narodniki long after I be- 
came a Marxist. In fact, I never threw it off. I never have. It 
has simply blended with that strain in the Christian tradition 
to which it is akin. It shaped the particular quality of my 
revolutionary character that made me specially beloved (of 
course, it is wrong to say such things, but it is true) even 
among many of the crude, trifling American Communists; so 
that [one among them] could say to a Time correspondent 
with whom she found herself junketing in East Germany 
after World War II: 7 simply cannot believe that Whittaker 
Chambers has broken. I could believe it of anybody else, but 
not of him. . . / And, of course > it was the revolutionary qual- 
ity that bemused Alger mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. 

The Last Years of Whitiaker Chambers [193 

"I remember how Ulrich, my first commander in the 
Fourth Section, once mentioned Vera Zasulich and added: 7 
suppose you never heard that name. 9 I said: *Z,asulich shot 
General Trepov for Hogging the student, Bogomolsky, in the 
Paviak prison' And I remember the excited smile with which 
he answered (Ulrich was a Left Socialist Revolutionist, not 
a Communist): 'That is true. But how do you know that?' 

"Like Ulrich, I may presume in supposing that the name 
of Ragozinikova is unknown to you. But the facts are these. 
In 1907, the Russian government instituted a policy of system- 
atically beating its political prisoners. One night, a fashion- 
ably dressed young woman called at the Central Prison in 
Petersburg and asked to speak with the commandant, Maxi- 
movsky. This was Ragozinikova, who had come to protest 
the government's policy. Inside the bodice of her dress were 
sewed thirteen pounds of dynamite and a detonator. When 
Maximovsky appeared., she shot him with her revolver and 
killed him. The dynamite was for another purpose. After 
the murder of Maximovsky, Ragozinikova asked the police 
to interrogate her at the headquarters of the Okhrana. She 
meant to blow it up together with herself; she had not known 
any other way to penetrate it. But she was searched and the 
dynamite discovered. She was sentenced to be hanged. 
Awaiting execution., she wrote her family: 'Death itself is 
nothing, . . . Frightful only is the thought of dying without 

having achieved what I could have done How good it 

is to love people. How much strength one gains from such 
love' When she was hanged, Ragozinikova was twenty years 

"In Witness, I have told how Sazonov drenched himself 
with kerosene and burned himself to death as a protest 
against the mistreatment of others. And I have told what 
that meant to me at one moment; how, had my comrade, 
Sazonov, not done that, there would not have been a Hiss 
case as we know it. This spirit persisted in the Fourth Section 
as late as 1938 [Jones] knows nothing of such people except 


as a legend. That is why, though [Jones] is transfixed with as 
many arrows as Sebastian, he simply does not understand 
the source of the glance that the Saint bends upon the bow- 
men. I need scarcely underscore the point at which that 
strain of the revolutionary spirit blends with a Christian 
elan, or why it was imperative for Communism to kill it out." 

Activism. From the Narodniki to the Republican Party, in 
one defection. During that period, Chambers believed that 
there was only a single man, among all those who had the 
slightest chance to succeed Eisenhower at the White House 
(Eisenhower was down with his heart attack and it was gen- 
erally assumed he would not run for re-election), who had 
any idea of what Communism was all about. I drove down to 
Westminster with a friend we had in common to get from 
him it was on the eve of the publication of our first issue 
his final word. The word was No. There were several reasons 
why he declined to leave his farm in Westminster and trudge 
back to New York to resume his professional life (he had all 
along insisted that if he joined us, he would come regularly 
to the office, even though we were content to let him peck 
away at his typewriter in the dark basement of his farm- 
house). But the predominant reason was that he would not 
associate himself with a journal which might oppose Eisen- 
hower's re-election, in the unlikely event he were to run 
again, or even be indifferent to his prospects for winning; 
let alone any magazine that might oppose Nixon's nomina- 
tion in the event Eisenhower withdrew. Chambers the ac- 
tivist reasoned that under the existing circumstances, a vote 
for Eisenhower was actually a vote for Eisenhower's Vice- 
President He puffed away at his pipe. 

It was an awesome moment. A climaxing disappointment 
It was rendered tolerable by one of those master strokes of 
irony over which Chambers and I were to laugh convulsively 
later. My companion was Willi Schlamm, former assistant 
to Henry Luce, an old friend of Chambers in the hard anti- 
Communist cell at Time, Inc., and a colleague, from the 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [195 

very beginning, in the National Review enterprise. Schlamm 
is a Viennese, volatile, amusing, the soul of obduracy, and a 
conversational stem-winder. He had been in on the negotia- 
tions with Chambers from the very first, and was modestly 
certain he could bring his old pal Whit along by the terrible 
cogency of his arguments. But as we drove down to Mary- 
land from New York, Schlamm got progressively hoarser. 
Two minutes after we arrived, laryngitis completely closed 
in. Whittaker was wonderfully attentive aspirin, tea, lemon, 
whiskey, bicarbonate, all that sort of thing. But at one point 
he turned to me, when Willi was out of sight, and gave me a 
huge, delighted wink. 

So he stayed on his farm, and worried. He had a great 
deal to worry about. There was a pending libel suit against 
him by a minor actor in Witness, and Chambers felt that he 
had been fighting completely alone. "Yowr letter [stating that 
his friends were standing by] did me a lot of good at the 
right moment. . . . When I go into court with the litigious 
Mr. X three days hence, I shall not feel, as until now I have 
had to feel, that I am just as alone in 1954 as in 1948. It is a 
somewhat freezing feeling. 39 

And Alger Hiss had come out of prison arrantly proclaim- 
ing his innocence. "Alger came out more -fiercely than even 
I had expected. . . . His strength is not what it was. But that 
it exists at all is stunning. Every time that, in the name of 
truth, he asserts his innocence, he strikes at truth y utters a 
slander against me, and compounds his guilt of several or- 
ders. . . . It is this which squirts into my morale a little jet of 
paralyzing poison. . . " 

His son John was having the normal son's difficulties at 
college. "John, like most sensitive youths, is a great nuisance 
to himself and to many others. He often stirs me to rage. . . . 
There come moments, even with a beloved son, when we are 
moved to nod assent to what Karl Brandt once said to me: 
*Dont you know that boys at that age are poisonous, simply 
poisonous? " 


His broken health, together with a grim financial situation, 
contributed to a great restlessness. "I do not even have the 
capital to farm halfheartedly., and I cannot, as in the past, 
make good the capital by my own labor power. This inability 
to work the place is perhaps the greatest burr in my mind at 
that angle. It torments me since, among other disabilities, I 
have no talent -for being a country gentleman. . . . But we 
have long been as poor as rats." 

And then, during that period, he reached the psychological 
low point of his later years, as he sweated in philosophical 
bedrock, gathering his thoughts: "I have been splashing 
about in my private pool of ice water" Again, "I have ceased 
to understand why I must go on living" Again, "The year 
was, for me, a long walk through the valley. No one but me 
will ever know how close I came to staying in it!' What was 
the trouble? "It had to do with my inability to fix the mean- 
ing of the current period of existence in some communicable 
way. I knew the fault lay in me. So that, all the while I was 
trying to write, I was simply trying to grow." 

But he came out of it. "Between Christmas . . and New 
Year, I woke, one dawn, from a dream in which I had been 
singing (in German, but not aloud, of course) a marching 
song. In my half-waking state, I continued to sing the song to 
the end, which goes: Hell aus der dunklen Vergangenheit/ 
Leuchtet die Zukunft hervor Bngftt, from the darkness of 
the past/ Beacons the future. From what depths had this 
song risen, which I had not sung (or heard sung) for decades? 
But the song was only a signature. What was wonderful, in- 
credible, was the sense of having passed -from one dimension 
into another; a sense of ordered peace, together with an ex- 
hilaration ( f at last I am free). I had touched bottom and was 
rising again to the surface; and, to rise, I had cut loose a 
drowning weight of extraneous this and that. . . . The dream 
was, in fact, the turning point of my late years. I take it that 
such a dream is a recapitulation; it prepares itself, as Camus 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [197 

says of suicide, 'like a work of art, secretly, in the hear? with- 
out the artist's being aware of the process" 

He could write, finally: "Ehrenburg has just made one of 
the most memorable utterances of the time: *If the whole 
world were to be covered with asphalt, one day a crack 
would appear in the asphalt; and in that crack, grass would 
grow! I offer the lines as the irreducible terms on which the 
mind can have hope in our age" 

Eisenhower ran and was re-elected. Nixon was safely Vice- 
President. Six months later Chambers wrote me to say he 
wanted to sign tip with National Review. Having made the 
decision, he was elated. After years of isolation and intro- 
spection, he was like a painter who had recovered his eye- 
sight. He felt the overwhelming need to practice his art. 
How many things he wanted to write about, and immedi- 
ately! Mushrooms, for one thing. Some gentleman, in an act 
of supreme conceit, had recently published a ten-dollar book 
of mycology, heaping scorn on one of Chambers' most be- 
loved species of toadstools. Camus. What a lot of things 
needed to be said instantly about the Myth of Sisyphus! 
Djilas' The New Class was just out and most of the critics 
had missed the whole point 

I rented a one-engine plane and swooped down on him at 
Westminster to make our arrangements. For my own reasons 
I had to make the round trip in one day, and I wanted to act 
immediately on Chambers' enthusiasm. He met me and we 
drove in his car to his farm. He told me the last time he had 
driven to the little grassy strip at Westminster, on which 
reckless pilots venture occasionally to land, was to greet 
Henry Luce, who had soared in from Washington to pay him 
an unexpected visit some months after Hiss's conviction. I 
remarked that such, obviously, is the traveling style of very 
important publishers. If he would not acknowledge that 
common denominator between me and Mr. Luce, I added, 
then he might recognize this one: such is the style of pub- 


lishers who employ Whittaker Chambers. He laughed, "but 
told me my manner was grossly imperfected. When Luce 
arrived, he said as we bounced about on the dusty dirt road 
in his open jeep, he had waiting for him at the airport a 
limousine to drive him to Chambers' farm. I made a note for 
my next landing 

He would not go to New York after all. To do so would be 
not merely to defy his doctor's orders, which he did regularly 
almost as a matter of principle, but to defy Esther's wishes, 
which was something else again. He would work at home. I 
begged him to desist from what I had denounced as his sin 
of scrupulosity. During the preceding eighteen months, since 
the Laryngitis Conference, he had twice volunteered to do 
a piece for National Review. One, I remember, was to be an 
answer to Dwight Macdonald's unbalanced attack on Na- 
tional Review in Commentary. He had suggested a deadline 
of two weeks after we spoke. Ten weeks later he abandoned 
the project Meanwhile he had done thirteen drafts. He 
would not show me any of them. 

I was disappointed, but not altogether surprised. I had had 
a dozen letters from him describing the fate of other letters 
he had written me. ("To your gladdening letters, I wrote a 
close-set, three-and-a-half-page reply, which I have just had 
the pleasure of setting a match to. ...**) At least once he 
burned a book-length manuscript. ("...I have burned a 
book half the size of Witness, and consider it one of my best 

deeds ") As soon as he regained consciousness after one 

coronary attack, whose relative ferocity he was sure would 
end up killing him, he groped his way down to the basement 
to destroy another great pile of manuscripts. 

He wrote on yellow second sheets, by hand, in pencil. 
Then he would rewrite and rewrite. Then sometimes he 
would type out a third or fourth draft. Then, after a few days, 
he would often destroy that. "Let us judge whether what you 
write is publishable/* I pleaded. "*You have no judgment on 
such matters. There should be a constitutional amendment 

The Last Years of Whittdker Chambers [199 

forbidding you to destroy anything you write, without the 
permission of a jury of your superiors, to which I hereby 
nominate myself." He chuckled. Underproduction would not 
be his trouble any more, he said: the way he was feeling he 
would bury us with copy, and before long Td be sending 
him literary tranquilizers. . . . 

But, five weeks later, he wrote me to say he must resign: 
he could not bring himself to submit to us what he had writ- 
ten. I cajoled him, and one day a five-thousand-word manu- 
script arrived, on "Soviet Strategy in the Middle East." 
("Talk, here in the farmlands" [it began], "is chiefly of the 
heaviest frost of this date in a decade, and what it may have 
done to stands of late corn. "Yet it cannot be said that we are 
wholly out of touch with the capitals of the mysterious East-- 
Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, New Jork ") 

Two months later, after struggling with the book for eight 
weeks, he submitted a long review of Ayn Rand's Atlas 
Shrugged, ("Somebody has called it 'excruciatingly awful' 

I find it a remarkably silly book In any case, the brew 

is probably without lasting ill effects. But it is not a cure for 
anything. Nor would we, ordinarily, place much confidence 
in the diagnosis of a doctor who supposes that the Hippo- 
cratic Oath is a kind of cursed Miss Rand never forgave me 
for publishing it, (To this day, she will walk theatrically out 
of any room I enter! ) 

A few months after that he wrote about the farm problem, 
clearly as an insider. ("Perhaps [in the future the socialized 
farmer] will not be able, in that regimented time to find or 
frame an answer [to why he lost his freedom]. Perhaps he 
will not need to. For perhaps the memory of those men and 
women [who fought socialism] will surprise him simply as 
with an unfamiliar, but arresting sound the sound of spring- 
heads, long dried up and silent in a fierce drought, suddenly 
burst out and rushing freely to the sea. It may remind him 
of a continuity that outlives all Uves, fears, perplexities, con- 
trivings, hopes > defeats; so that he is mooed to reach down 


and touch again for strength., as if he were its first discoverer, 
the changeless thing the undeluding, undenying earth!'} 

And then a piece defending the right of Alger Hiss to 
travel abroad, while denying that Hiss can be said to have 
paid his debt to society. ("The Hiss Case remains a central 
lesion of our time. That is why, ultimately, I cannot say . . . 
that Alger Hiss has paid any effective penalty. For precisely 
he can end the lesion at any moment that he chooses, with 
half-a-dozen words" Chambers knew that his absolute en- 
dorsement of the right of anyone to travel would bring criti- 
cism from certain quarters on the Right. No matter. "Woe to 
those who grope -for reality and any approximate truth that 
may he generalized from it, in the no mans land between 
incensed camps. History and certain personal experiences 
leave me in little doubt about the fate of such seekers. They 
are fair game to the snipers of both sides, and it is always 
open season. But while Mr. Hiss hurries to his plane or ship, 
and the snipers wait for tJte man to reach, in his groping, the 
point where the hairlines cross on their sights, I may still 
have time to sort the dead cats into tidy piles those from 
one camp, here; those from the other., there. As one of my 
great contemporaries put it: c Anybody looking for a quiet life 
has picked the wrong century to be born in! The remark 
must be allowed a certain authority, I think., since the cen- 
tury clinched the point by mauling with an ax the brain that 
framed it") 

That piece was picked up by The New York Times y which 
also had run a paragraph calling attention to Chambers' 
joining the staff of National Review, a story picked up by AP. 
He bore the publicity he got with resignation, though it 
clearly upset him. If Chambers could have taken a bath in 
invisible ink, I have no doubt he'd have done so. He loathed 
publicity, even as he loathed gossip. ( He passed on a piece 
of news to me once which, he admitted, he had got second- 
handEsther had it over the telephone: *7 think it is true. 
Or so Esther tells me. For, at the first tinkle of the beU, I 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [201 

rushed outside to feed the fish in the pond. Because they do 
not bark, and do not know the secrets of Washington,") In 
preparing this article I looked in Who's Who for Chambers' 
birth date but his name was not listed. I looked in the 1952 
edition; no entry there either. I wrote a furious letter to Who's 
Who which (I had previously noted) studiedly ignores 
the existence of all interesting people to ask why they 
discriminate against anyone who isn't a Congressman or a 
rich dentist. But this time they had me: Chambers had for 
ten years refused to complete the biographical questionnaires 
they had repeatedly sent him. When the news got out that 
he had joined National Review's staff, he received a tele- 
phone call from Time magazine's Baltimore stringer request- 
ing an interview. Sorry, Chambers said, as he always did to 
any member of the press who wanted to see him on official 
business. Like Who's Who > Time refused to take notice of 
the affairs of anyone so ungrateful as to refuse to cooperate 
with its opinion-gatherers ( Who's Who, after all, could have 
got all the information it needed from Witness). The Time 
reporter wired the New York office, snootily declining to 
pursue a story about so uncooperative a subject, and, for 
good measure, sent Chambers a copy of it. 

At about that time, I remember, Newsweek ran a story 
under its regular feature heading, "Where Are They Now?" 
(i.e., the Heroes [or Villains] of Yesteryear). Chambers, 
Newsweek Periscoped, was still living in the farmhouse 
where he had buried the famous papers in a pumpkin; he 
never budged from the farm; and was hard at work on a new 
book. I wrote to Newsweek to say their account was inter- 
esting, except that: a) Chambers had moved from the farm- 
house in question (during the preceding winter it had almost 
burned to the ground), and was now living in a little house 
at the other end of his farm; b) that he was working, and had 
been for a year, for National Review,, and came regularly to 
New York; and c) that he had temporarily abandoned work 
on the new book. Newsweek ran no correction. If Newsweek 


had run an incorrect report on Chambers, clearly it was 
Chambers' fault. He should have kept Newsweek better in- 
formed on his movements. 

But notwithstanding his desire for privacy and his tem- 
peramental dislike for New York ("New York you need to 
exploit, and I never learned how")., Chambers decided in the 
summer of 1958 to come here every fortnight to spend two 
days in the office, writing editorials and short features for 
National Review. He would arrive on the train from Balti- 
more at noon and come directly to the editorial lunch, al- 
ways out of breath, perspiring in his city clothes. He was 
always glad to see his gentle friend, John Chamberlain, his 
longtime colleague from Time, Inc. He liked his little cubicle 
at National Review which, five minutes after he entered it ? 
smelled like a pipe-tobacco factory. He puffed away fero- 
ciously, grinding out his memorable paragraphs. Everything 
he wrote had intellectual and stylistic distinction and, above 
all, the intense emotional quality of the man who, fifteen 
years before, had said of the Negro spiritual: "It was the 
religious voice of a whole religious people probably the 
most God-obsessed (and man-despised) since the ancient He- 
brews One simple fact is clear they were created in 

direct answer to the Psalmist's question, 'How shall we sing 
the LorcFs song in a strange land? 9 . . . Grief,, like a tuning 
fork, gave the tone y and the Sorrow Songs were uttered." 

Yet anyone meeting Chambers casually, without precon- 
ception, would say of him first that he was a highly amusing 
and easily amused man. The bottomless gravity seldom sug- 
gested itself. He was not merely a man of wit, but also a man 
of humor, and even a man of fun. Often, in his letters, even 
through his orotund gloom, the pixie would surface. ("Would 
that we could live in the world of the fauves, where the 
planes are disjointed only on canvas, instead of a world 
where the wild beasts are real and the disjointures threaten 
to bury us. Or do I reatty wish that? It would take some nice 
thinking for, perhaps, toasted Susie is not my ice cream. Per- 

The Last "Years of Whittaker Chambers [203 

haps you should make a transparency of [Gertrude Stein's 
'most perfect sentence'] and hang it as a slogan outside the 
windows of the National Review: 'Toasted Susie is Not My 
Ice Cream' It might catch you more subscribers than Senator 
McCarthy at that.") 

On Tuesday nights we worked late, and four or five of us 
would go out to dinner. By then he was physically exhausted. 
But he wanted to come with us, and we would eat at some 
restaurant or other, and he would talk hungrily (and eat 
hungrily) about everything that interested him, which was 
literally everything in this world, and not in this world. He 
talked often around a subject, swooping in to make a quick 
point, withdrawing, relaxing, laughing, listening he listened 
superbly, though even as a listener he was always a potent 
force. He was fascinated by the method and scope of James 
Burnham's interests, and the sureness of his analytical mind, 
though Chambers' own thoughts were so resolutely non- 
schematic that he tended to shrink from some of Burnham's 
grandiose constructions, even while admiring the architec- 
ture. They made for a wonderful dialectic, Burnham's $os- 
tenutos and Chambers* enigmatic descants. The next 
morning, press day, he was at his desk at eight, and we would 
have a sandwich lunch. At five he was on the train back to 
Baltimore, where his wife would meet him. And on reaching 
his farm he would drop on his bed from fatigue. Three 
months after he began coming to New York, he collapsed 
from another heart attack. 

Six months later, in the summer of 1959, he felt well 
enough to indulge a dream, more particularly his gentle 
wife's dream, to visit Europe. She had never been there, and 
he had been there only once, in 1927, the trip he described 
so evocatively in Witness, We drove them to the airport 
after a happy day. I noticed worriedly how heavily he per- 
spired and how nervously his heavy thumbs shuffled through 
the bureaucratic paraphernalia of modern travel, as he dug 
up, in turn, passports, baggage tags, vaccination certificates. 


and airplane tickets. His plans were vague, but at the heart 
of them was a visit to his old friend, Arthur Koestler. 

They were at Koestler's eyrie in Austria for a week, an un- 
forgettable week. 

"Alpach, where AK lives, fe some four hundred meters 
higher into the hills than Innsbruck. While we were flying 
from Pans, the worst landslide since 1908 (I am only quoting) 
had destroyed several miles of the only road up. Neverthe- 
less, we got through, by jeep, on a road just wide enough for 
a jeep, and not always quite that. On my side, without lean- 
ing out at all, I could see straight down several hundred feet. 
Happily, the Austrian army was at the wheel of the jeep. K, 
waiting at the point where our trail emerged, was thinking 
of the most amusing headlines: 'Whittaker Chambers crashes 
over Alpine Trail on secret visit to Arthur Koestler. British 
Intelligence questions surviving writer* There in Alpach we 
spent some days about which I cannot possibly write -fully. 
Perhaps, some moment being right, it will seem proper to 
try to recover certain moments. Perhaps. Then K had the 
idea to wire Greta Buber-Neumann: 'Komme schleunigst 
Gute weine. Ausserdem. Whittaker C.' 'Come quickest. 
Good wine. In addition, WC* In case you do not know, Greta 
Buber-Neumann is tJie daughter-in-law of Martin Buber, 
widow of Heinz Neumann, most dazzling of the German CP 
leaders (shot without trial), sister-in-law of Willi Muenzen- 
berg (organizer of the Muenzenberg Trust, killed by the 
NKVD while trying to escape the Gestapo). Greta herself 
spent two years as a slave in Karaganda. Bij then, the Mos- 
cow-Berlin Pact had been signed, and the NKVD handed her 
(and many others) over to the Gestapo on the bridge at 
Brest-Litovsk. Then she spent five years in German concen- 
tration camps, mostly at Ravensbruck Impossible to tell 

here this story of her lifetime, which makes the Odyssey, 

for all its grandeur, somehow childish So there we sat., 

and talked, not merely about the daily experiences of our 
lives. Each of the two men had tried to kill himself and 

The Last Years of WhiUaker Chambers [205 

failed; Greta was certainly the most hardy and astonishing 
of the three. Then we realized that, of our particular breed, 
the old activists, we are almost the only survivors. . . ? 

They went on to Rome ("In Rome, I had to ask Esther for 
the nitroglycerine. Since then, I've been living on the 
stuff . . /'), Venice ("I came back to Venice chiefly to rest. If 
it were not for my children, I should try to spend the rest of 
my life here. Other cities are greater or less great than some- 
thing or some other city. Venice is incomparable. It is the 
only city I have ever loved'}, Berlin ("I feel as though I had 
some kind of a moral compulsion to go at this time . . . "), 
Paris ("You will look up Malraux?" I wrote him I remem- 
bered the gratitude Chambers felt on receiving a handwrit- 
ten note from Malraux, who had just read Witness: "You 
have not come back from hell with empty hands." "Malraux 
is busy'' Chambers replied: "If he wants to see me, he will 
know where to find me"). 

"Europe" he concluded one letter, "has almost nothing to 
say to me, and almost nothing to tell me that I cannot learn 
just about as well from the European press and occasional 
European tourists in America; or correspondence. . . . Give 
[the Europeans] the means, and these dear friends, that 
noble Third Force, will cut our bloody throats. As people, 
they are stronger than we are, and they know it . . . their dis- 
dain for us is withering. Give these superior breeds the eco- 
nomic power to see us at eye level, and they will see light 
over us * 

Within a few weeks he got sick again, and abruptly they 
flew back; and again he was in bed. 

He wanted to resign from National Review. It was partly 
that his poor health and his unconquerable perfectionism 
kept him from producing a flow of copy large enough to 
satisfy his conscience. Partly it was his Weltanschauung, 
which was constantly in motion. Chiefly he resisted National 
Review's schematic conservatism, even its schematic anti- 
Communism. "You . . . stand within, or at any rate are elab- 


orating, a political orthodoxy. I stand within no political 
orthodoxy. ... I am at heart a counter-revolutionist. You mean 
to be conservative, and I know no one who seems to me to 
have a better right to the term. I am not a conservative. 
Sometimes I have used the term loosely, especially when I 
was -first called on publicly to classify myself. I have since 
been as circumspect as possible in using the term about my- 
self. I say: I am a man of the Right" But a formal with- 
drawal would mean the final institutional wrench. Emotion- 
ally he was drawn to us. "Could I join you" he had written 
as long ago as 1955, on deciding not to join us, "that might 
end my loneliness; it might spell hope. It is, in fact, the great 
temptation. My decision is, therefore, made across the tug 
of that temptation." Chambers, the individualist, believed 
strongly in organization. He believed, for instance, in the 
Republican Party. Not the totemic party of John Browns 
Body as sung by Everett McKinley Dirksen, but the Repub- 
lican Party as a Going Organization. *7 shall vote the straight 
Republican ticket for as long as I live," he told me. "You see, 
Tm an Orgbureau man" ("I expect," I replied after the 1958 
elections, "that you will outlive the Party.") He easily out- 
matched my pessimism. Already he had written, on the New 
Year before the elections, "I saw my first robin this A.M., sit- 
ting huddled, fluffed up and chilly on a bare branch, just like, 
I thought, a Republican candidate in 1958" And when the 
returns came in: "If the Republican Party cannot get some 
grip of the actual world we live in and from it generalize and 
actively promote a program that means something to masses 
of people why somebody else will There will be nothing to 
argue. The voters wiU simply vote Republicans into singu- 
larity. The Republican Party will become like one of those 
dark little shops which apparently never sell anything. If, 
for any reason, you go in, you find at the back, an old man, 
fingering for his own pleasure some oddments of cloth. No- 
body wants to buy them, which is fine because the old man 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [207 

is not really interested in selling. He just likes to hold and to 

But the day had to come, as I knew It would. "This is my 
resignation from NR," he wrote sadly toward the end of 
1959. "This is a retype of the beginning of a much longer 
letter. . . ." 

He had made up his mind to do something else. He en- 
rolled at Western Maryland College as an undergraduate. 
"Most people incline to laugh. I think they -feel that it is such 
a uxiste on all sides since I shall not be around long enough 
to put it to any use of the kind people call *good? rue con- 
sidered that. I do not wish to die an ignoramus. If I can 
bring it off in terms of health, energy, time, application, then 
I think the world should let me try. The world is desperately 
ignorant at the moment when it has most reason to know 
with some exactitude " 

Several reasons why he should take this course were in- 
stantly clear to me. He had quit National Review. He had 
failed to complete the book that Random House had been 
expecting for six years. (That book is now being assembled 
for publication. ) He did not want to sit at home, half crip- 
pled and denied the life he would, I think, have liked most to 
lead, the life of a dawn-to-dusk farmer. Chambers was all 
Puritan about work. Idleness was utterly incomprehensible 
to him. Even when he was home and without formal obliga- 
tions, he was unremittingly active, working, reading, writing, 
beginning at four or five in the morning. At night he often 
watched television, and then early to bed. 

But there was another reason. In Europe, Koestler, whose 
book The Sleepwalkers Chambers had read just before leav- 
ing, had said to him sharply: "You cannot understand what 
is going on in the world unless you understand science 
deeply." Very well, then, he would learn science. And so the 
author of Witness, former book reviewer and foreign editor 
f or Time, author of profound essays on history and theology 


and politics, of exhaustive articles on the Renaissance and 
the culture of the Middle Ages, writer of what a critic has 
called the most emotive political prose of our time, whose 
voice John Strachey had called, along with those of Orwell, 
Camus, Koestler and Pasternak, the "strangled cry" of the 
West in crisis, a sixty-year-old man fluent in French, German, 
at home in Italian, Spanish and Russian, went back to school 

I remembered suddenly that the hero of The Sleepwalkers 
was Johann Kepler. And I remembered the first question in 
an examination in physics I struggled with at Yale: "State," 
it said, in those hortatory accents common to government 
forms and college examinations, "Kepler's Laws." I hadn't 
been able to state them, let alone understand them. So 
Chambers would learn about Kepler. God help us. 

He threw himself into his work. Science courses galore* 
And, for relaxation, Greek, Latin and advanced French 
composition. Every morning he drove to school and sat be- 
tween the farmers' sons of Western Maryland, taking notes, 
dissecting frogs, reciting Greek Paradigms, working tangled 
problems in physics. Home, and immediately to the base- 
ment to do his homework. Everything else was put aside. He 
signed up for the summer session, of course, but in the in- 
terstice between terms ("First day of summer break, and 
I am wild with liberty. I was still standing by hanging on to 
the ropes, when the final bell sounded') he drove north to 
see his daughter, and spent the day with us on a hot after- 
noon during the summer. How do you get on, my wife asked 
him, with your fellow undergraduates? "Just fine," he said. 
"In fact, I have an admirer. A young lady, aged about nine- 
teen, who shares with me the carcasses of small animals, 
which the two of us proceed, in tandem, to disembowel the 
college can't afford one starfish per pupil, let alone one piglet. 
For months while we worked together she addressed me not 
a word, and I was afraid my great age had frightened her. 
But last week, all of a sudden, she broke silence. She said 
breathlessly: c Mr. Chambers?' 'Yes/ 1 answered her anxiously. 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [209 

'Tell me, what do you think of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie If el- 
low Polka-dot Bikini? " He broke down with laughter. He 
hadn't, at the critical moment, the least idea that the young 
lady was talking about a popular song, but he had impro- 
vised beautifully until he was able to deduce what on earth 
it was all about, whereupon he confided to his co-vivisec- 
tionist that it happened that this was absolutely, positively, 
indisputably his very favorite song, over all others he had 
ever heard. Her gratitude was indescribable. From that mo- 
ment on they chirped together happily and pooled their 
knowledge about spleens and livers, kidneys and upper in- 

I imagine he was a very quiet student, giving his teachers 
no cause whatever for the uneasiness they might have ex- 
pected to feel in the presence of so august a mind. Only 
once, that I know of, was he aroused to take issue with one 
of his teachers. 

"An incident from my Greek class, which has left me in 
ill -favor. We came on a Greek line of Diogenes: 'Love of 
money is the mother-city of all the ills! Opinions were in- 
vited; and when my turn came, I answered with one word: 
Nonsense. 9 That was too vehement, but there was a reason. 
Behind me was sitting a Junior, who manages on a scholar- 
ship or grant or something of the kind, and whose college life 
has been made a misery by poverty AU things consid- 
ered, he is a pretty good student; but his sleepiness makes 
him an easy professorial butt. In addition, he is not a par- 
ticularly personable youth. To say in the presence of such a 
case, 'Love of money is the mother-city of all ills .. *i$ why 
I answered 'Nonsense. 9 . . . I offered in Greek: *A lack of 
money is the root of many ills!'. . . I thought I could speak 
with some freedom since there can scarcely ever have ex- 
isted a man in whom love of money is as absolutely absent as 
in me. I don't even get properly interested in it. Oh, I also 
offered (while authority was being bandied) St. Thomas 
Aquinas' 'Money is neither good nor bad in itself: it depends 


on what is done with it* But St. Thomas seems not to be in 
good standing. So, down the generations go the blinded 
minds, blinkered minds, at any rate. But I wonder what 
Master Jones, the impoverished Junior, thought about it. I 
did not ask. He, like the other Greeks who were doing most 
of the talking, is a pre-divinity student pre-Flight, as they 
call it happily here" 

During examination weeks he was in a constant state o 
high boil. He slaved for his grades. And he achieved them, 
even in the alien field of science; all As, or A-'s; once, as I 
remember, a humiliating B+. After the winter, his fatigue 
was total, overwhelming. "Weariness, Bill," he wrote in the 
last letter I had from him, shortly before John's wedding, 
"you cannot yet know literally what it means. I wish no 
time would come when you do know, but the balance of 
experience is against it. One day, long hence, you will know 
true weariness and will say: 'That was it* My own life of late 
has been full of such realizations." 

He learned science, and killed himself. Those were the 
two things, toward the end, he most wanted to do. 

"Why on earth doesn't your father answer the phone?" I 
asked Ellen in Connecticut on Saturday afternoon, the 8th of 
July. "Because," she said with a laugh, shyly, "Poppa and 
the phone company are having a little tiff, and the phone is 
disconnected. They wanted him to trim one of his favorite 
trees to take the strain off the telephone line, and he put it 
off. So ... they turned off the phone." I wired him: WHEN 


BING. But he didn't call. The following Tuesday, I came back 
to my office from the weekly editorial lunchI had thought, 
as often I did, how sorely we missed him there in the dining 
room* As I walked into my office I had a call. I took it stand- 
ing, in front of my desk. It was John Chambers. He gave me 
the news. A heart attack- The final heart attack. Cremation 
in total privacy. The news would go to the press later that 

The Last Years of Whittaker Chambers [211 

afternoon. His mother was in the hospital. I mumbled the 
usual inappropriate things, hung up the telephone, sat down, 
and wept. "American men, who weep in droves in movie 
houses, over the woes of lovestruck shop girls, hold that 
weeping in men is unmanly [he wrote me once], I have 
found most men in whom there was depth of experience, or 
capacity for compassion, singularly apt to tears. How can it 
be otherwise? One looks and sees: and it would be a kind of 
impotence to be incapable of, or to grudge, the comment of 
tears, even while you struggle against it. I am immune to 
soap opera. But I cannot listen for any length of time to the 
speaking voice of Kirsten Flagstad, for example, without be- 
ing done in by that magnificence of tone that seems to speak 
from the center of sorrow, even from the center of the earth" 
For me, and others who knew him, his voice had been and 
still is like Eorsten Flagstad's, magnificent in tone, speaking 
to our time from the center of sorrow, from the center of 
the earth. 

Outside Politics 


VERY early in my very brief career as an oceangoing 
sailor I read with considerable interest the chapter in one 
of H. A. Calahan's "Learning How" series on selecting the 
ideal crew. The subject has continued to absorb me, both as 
an abstract problem, and as a practical matter. At about 
the time I was getting together a crew for the Newport 
Annapolis Race I read a magazine article which posed the 
question, What are the proper qualifications for crew mem- 
bers on a transatlantic race? 

The author's answer he should be able to make a long 
splice from the masthead struck me, at the time, as a per- 
fectly serviceable symbolic requirement for the useful crew 
member; so drugged was I by the propaganda of cultism. I 
coasted along for several days at peace with that generaliza- 
tion until some devil prompted me, apropos nothing at all, 
to ask the crew of my boat, The Panic,, at a moment when we 
were sprawled about the cockpit and deck having supper, 
"How many of you know how to do a long splice?" 

Of the six persons I addressed, five did not know how. Two 
or three of diem had once known how, but had forgotten. 
The sixth said that under perfect circumstances he probably 
could negotiate a long splice. What, I asked him, did he con- 
sider perfect circumstances to be? Well, he said, lots of time, 
nobody looking over his shoulder, nothing said about the 
esthetic appearance of the splice once consummated, and 



maybe a sketch to refresh his memory in the event it should 

Not, in a word, from the masthead. 

I felt no embarrassment, I hasten to add, in putting the 
question to my crew, because I do not myself know how to 
make a long splice, or even a short one. I intend, one of 
these days, to learn, as I intend, one of these days, to read 
Proust. Just when, I cannot say; before or after Proust, I can- 
not say either. 

I mean to make two points. The first is that the crew on 
the race in question was a perfectly competent crew accord- 
ing to my standards., the standards of an amateur; and the 
second, that the cultists are these days, as far as sailing is 
concerned, winning a creeping victory over us amateurs. And 
then, of course, I have an exhortation: Amateurs of the world 
unite! What you stand to lose is your pleasure! 

What are the standards I am here to defend? At this point 
I must be permitted an autobiographical word or two de- 
tailing my own experiences with, and knowledge of, sailing. 

Sailing has always had an irresistible allure for me. At 
twelve, I persuaded my indulgent father to give me a boat. 
Cautiously, he gave me a boat and a full-time instructor. The 
boat was a 16-foot Barracuda (a class since extinct), and I 
joined the variegated seven-boat fleet in Lakeville, Connec- 
ticut, as the only member under twenty-one. 

The Wononscopomuc Yacht Club, whose only assets were 
a charter, an aluminum trophy donated by a local hardware 
store, and $2 per year from each of the boats, was fortunate 
enough at the time I Joined it to be adminstered, or rather 
reigned over, by a retired commodore whose passion for 
ritual and discipline imposed upon the carefree fleet a certain 
order. From him we got a knowledge of, and respect for, the 
rudiments of yachting, and even some of the niceties. We 
learned, too, something about the rules of racing (although 
I infer from the animadversions of an adjacent skipper at the 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [217 

starting line at a recent race that some of the rules have 
since changed) . After virtually every round (we raced three 
times a week) the commodore would buzz around the fleet 
in a squat canoe propelled by four melancholy ten-year-old 
camp boys, informing us of the delinquency of our racing 
strategy, and of the great swath we had that day cut into 
the rule book. 

Dutifully, we would file our protests. Having done so, we 
would meet some evening during the following week never 
less than three days after the offense, for the commodore re- 
quired at least that much time to reflect on the enormity of 
the offense, and to weigh carefully the conflicting demands 
of justice and mercy. After an elaborate exposition of the 
problem, he would pronounce, ponderously, sentence. 

This ranged from disqualification to, on the lenient days, a 
terrible warning to which, of course, was attached public 

So it went for three years; 50 races per season, rain or 
shine. The war interrupted all that, and I did not sail again 
until a few years ago, when I bought a 14-foot Sailfish. 

The Sailfish pricked the curiosity of my six-foot-five, 250- 
pound brother-in-law, Austin Taylor, who had never sailed 

Austin regulates his life on the philosophy that tomorrow 
we may die and hence he was soon urging that we buy a 
cruising boat and move around a little bit. In the summer of 
1955, a persuasive yacht broker parlayed our desire for a nice 
little cruising boat into The Panic. Austin's size provided the 

The Panic is* a lovely 4232-foot, steel-hulled cutter, stiff, 

* The Panic was destroyed during a recent hurricane. Professor Hugh 
Kenner wrote of her: "She had done much for her friends, in the summers 
before her side was stove in. She had taken them all around the Sound, 
and along the New England coast, and even to Bermuda (thrice), and 
shown them Wood's Hole, and the Great Fish, that eats taffrail logs, and the 
Kraken, and the strange men of Onset with their long faces, and perfect 
Edgartown; and lapped them at night gently to rest; and given tnem the 
wind and sun and often more rain than they knew how to be comfortable 


fast, built in Holland in brazen disregard of American handi- 
cap rules. Her CCA rating is a merciless and zenophobic 
34.4, putting her up in the company of the racing machines, 
which she is not. Our first race was the Vineyard Race of that 
September. Our large genoa and spinnaker arrived two hours 
before the start. A crew was hastily put together by a friend 
who knew the race, and the rigors of ocean racing. We did 
not come in last, but that was not, the skipper commented 
ruefully, because we didn't try. We learned a great deal and 
resolved to enter, the following year, the exotic race to Ber- 

What kind of a sailor, then, do I consider myself? I am 
perfectly at home in a small boat, and would, in a small boat 
race, more often than not come in if not this side of glory, 
perhaps this side of ignominy. I know enough of the ele- 
ments of piloting to keep out of normal difficulties. I have a 
spectacularly defective memory, so that I am hopeless in 
recognizing even landmarks I may have set eyes on a thou- 
sand times, and therefore not a naturally talented pilot. 

When my radio direction finder works, I can work it. I 
am studying celestial navigation (how it works, not why). 
My instructor would classify me as a medium-apt student, 
though my attendance record has been erratic. I know my 
boat reasonably well and even know now why it suddenly 
sank at a slip a year or so ago, mystifying me (I was a thou- 
sand miles away when it happened) as well as the experts. I 
am reasonably calm, reasonably resourceful, and have reason- 
able resistance to adversity. Those are my credentials. And 
the question before the house: Are my credentials high 
enough? And the corollary question, high enough for what? 

Herewith my first collision with a cultist 

Second only to the fear of God, the beginning of wisdom 
is the knowledge of one's limitations. That much wisdom 

in; and made for them a place of adventure and refreshment and peace; 
and taught them this, that beyond illusion it is possible to- be for hours and 
days on end perfectly and inexpressibly happy." 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [219 

Austin Taylor and I exhibited in resolving to ask someone 
with considerably more experience than we to take command 
of The Panic on the race to Bermuda. The name of a highly 
experienced sailor known slightly to Austin Taylor suggested 
itself. Parkinson (let us call him) had met Taylor in the 
course of business in downtown New York, and identified 
himself as an enthusiastic and seasoned sailor. He had his 
own boat (I think it was an 8-meter) but it was ill-equipped 
and unsuited to the Bermuda ordeal. Parkinson had ap- 
proached a mutual friend with the idea of getting a berth 
aboard TJie Panic. Instead we offered him, and he promptly 
accepted, Command. 

There followed eight or so of the most hectic weeks of my 
life. Parkinson had not only got control of The Panic, he had 
got control of me, my wife, my child and my dogs in the 
bargain. (Austin Taylor fled to the Philippines and stayed 
away a year.) My life, I think it is accurate to say, was at 
his disposal. To begin with, the crew was seated at lunch; 
and before we knew it there had been duly constituted some 
one dozen committees, each of which had three members 
and a chairman, meaning about four committees for each 
member of the seven-man crew. 

Each committee had an area of responsibility. There was, 
for example, the Safety Committee (flares, life jackets, dye 
markers, etc.), the Navigation Committee (HO 211, six pen- 
cils, etc.), the Bermuda Reservations Committee, the Food 
Committee, the Supplies Committee ten or twelve in all. 
Parkinson suggested I go to work on my backwardness by 
doing a little remedial reading. Without even glancing at the 
list he furnished me, I turned it over to my secretary and 
asked her to secure the books. A week later anyone gazing 
at my desk would have taken the occupant for the curator of 
a maritime library. Moreover, I had the distinct feeling that, 
at Newport, Parkinson would examine me and, if I did not 
measure up to his final standard, I would probably see the 
start of the race from the committee boat 


Beginning that weekend in February, Parkinson and one 
or two of his associates (he had promptly filled out half of 
the crew with his expert friends) started coming to the 
Muzzio Brothers boatyard in Stamford to brood over The 
Panic. Parkinson is a highly efficient and useful human being, 
and I do not mean to underrate the services he performed for 
The Panic in the succeeding six weekends: but I could not 
avoid getting the impression that he liked to fuss over the 
boat partly for the sake of it; and arriving at the conclusion, 
upon meditation, that in liking to do so, he is one of a breed. 

I believe, to give an example, that my concern that the 
standing rigging in my own boat be sound is as lively as his 
own. But whereas I am satisfied to inspect the rigging cur- 
sorily, and otherwise repose my faith in professional riggers 
whom I retain to go over the rigging every year, Parkinson 
spent hours feeling every strand of wire, and fingering every 
screw and bolt for signs of wear, or fatigue, or restiveness of 
the subtlest kind. The Panic had no secrets left when Parkin- 
son was through with her. She might as well have gone to 
bed with a psychoanalyst I soon learned that the Bermuda 
race began the day we took on Parkinson: which meant, 
really, that it was too long a race. 

We foundered, curiously, on a triviality, but one on which 
I decided, providentially, to take a stand. 

Nothing, as I say, was being left to take care of itself. And 
so in one connection or other (probably the chairman of the 
Supplies Committee brought the matter up) the question 
arose what to take along in the way of liquor. "There will be 
no liquor consumed during the race," Parkinson said, with 
rather arresting firmness. I rose to the bait, and said I thought 
it reasonable to permit members of the watch going off duty 
to have a drink, if they chose. 

In races, Parkinson said patiently, one does not drink 
liquor until one crosses the finish line. I said: "One undoubt- 
edly knows more about the traditions of ocean racing than I 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [2,2,1 

do. But/' I added, warming a little bit to the subject, "some 
traditions are rational and some are not, and I think it rea- 
sonable, in such a case as this, to ask One to bring intelligence 
to bear on the subject rather than submit unquestioningly to 
doctrinaire propositions minted by our nautical forebears. Is 
it your assumption," I asked jocularly (it was a mistake to be 
jocular with Parkinson), "that the Battle of Trafalgar would 
have been won sooner had One reminded Admiral Nelson of 

Tradition in time to recall the ration of rum he had recklessly 


dispensed to the fleet immediately before the engagement?" 
Parkinson explained that crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a 
small boat requires an alert crew. I explained that I was 
aware of the fact, and was not suggesting a drunk, nor even, 
for those on watch, a drink; that I thought reasonable men 
could distinguish between a drink and a drunk. I suggested, 
as the subject began to carry me away, that his position was 
fetishistic, that unless he could defend it more reasonably, it 
must be written off either as superstition or as masochism or 
as neo-spartanism, and that I was anti-all three. Parkinson 
said that no boat of which he had charge would dispense 
demon rum to the crew, and that was that. I told him liquor 
would be on board, and those who wanted it could have it. ... 
Late that night he called me dramatically to say that he 
and his associates were pulling out of the crew, on the 
grounds that my attitude toward sailing was too frivolous. 
Parkinson's replacement, an engaging, highly skilled and 
wonderfully permissive Middle Westerner, arrived for the 
trip two (2) days before we set out from Newport. He was 
relaxed and competent and congenial. (There was liquor 
aboard, by the way; and, further by the way, in the four-day 
trip we probably averaged two drinks apiece. ) 

We did rather creditably, as a matter of fact; halfway in 
our high-powered class. Parkinson, who had joined another 
boat, came in two days after we got to Bermuda, second to 
last in the fleet I am not implying divine justification here, 
or even empirical corroboration of my theories. If Parkin- 


son was in charge of his boat I am certain things were tidier 
and better ordered than on The Panic, and that it was his 
boat's faultor the cruelest ill luck, against which no com- 
mittee however diligent could have shielded him that we 
trounced him so decisively. I am merely saying that if I 
should be guaranteed the Bermuda Trophy provided I raced 
with Parkinson aboard, I should say thanks very much, but 
no thanks: I like to sail, and I like to sail well; and I'd love 
to win the Bermuda race. But when I step on a boat I do 
not wish to pursue ordeal, for ordeal's sake; we amateurs 
want to sail. Sail remember? 

I almost always end up with a crew one or two members of 
which have had very little sailing experience. This is some 
sort of handicap in a race, no doubt about it. When at the 
helm in a boat the novice will too often luff up, or bear away 
and lose position. Leading the jib sheet, he will at least once 
in the course of the race gird the winch counterclockwise, 
Ask him to rig a preventer and he rushes forward with a 
boom vang. Almost surely he will pronounce leeward lee- 
ward, and who knows the measure of Triton's vengeance on 
the boat where that enormity is perpetrated? 

I have seen consternation on the faces of the more experi- 
enced members of the crew at such evidences of inexperience 
or even ignorance, and I do not myself pretend to imperturb- 
ability when they occur. 

But shouldn't one bear in mind other factors? The annoy- 
ances, sub specie aeternitatis, are trivial. The mistakes seldom 
make a marginal difference, particularly in a long race, if one 
doesn't, to begin with, own a gold-plater. And there are other 
things to be weighed. You are introducing a friend to an 
awesome experience. You see him learn his way about much 
faster than ever he would on a cruise. There is aboard a per- 
son or two upon whom the wonder of it all works sensations 
of a distinctive freshness; and there is vicarious pleasure to 
be had in bringing such pleasure to others* The novice is a 
friend, and to other common experiences you have shared, 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [2,2,3 

you now add that of sailing. One must make certain, of 
course, that there is enough aggregate experience aboard to 
cope with emergencies: so that the levy is not on the well- 
being of other crew members, but on their patience, and, to 
some extent, on their chances so very remote, anyway, in 
the company The Panic keeps for hardware. 

Let us face it, the oceangoing race is largely an artificial 
contest. Will the best boat win? It is impossible to weigh the 
relative merits of different boats except by one standard at 
a time. In ocean races the boats are not alike; each boat 
represents an individually balanced set of concessions to 
speed, safety, comfort, and economy. A noble effort is made 
by ingenious statisticians and measurers to devise a Pro- 
crustean formula that will leave all boats identical; but it is a 
failure, and all of us, in our hearts, know it. The handicap 
rule is a Rube Goldberg contrivance designed to succeed in 
the kind of tank-test situation which Nature, in her sullen 
way, never vouchsafes us. 

If Cotton Blossom and Nina were both manned by autom- 
atons and sailed around a given course a thousand times, on 
a thousand consecutive days, the chances are very good that 
the corrected times of the two would not once coincide. The 
contest, then, given differing characteristics and differing 
relative speeds of boats in different tacks and under different 
conditions, is not really between boats. 

Is it between crews? Again, only if the boats are identical, 
or nearly so. A good crew will get more out of a boat than 
a poor crew, but the only generalization that this permits is 
that a given boat will do better with Crew A than it would 
have done with Crew B: meaning, if you want to make a 
contest out of it, that Crew A beat Crew B. But that is a 
hypothetical contest; in reality, a boat can only sail, at any 
given time, with a single crew. What, then, can be proved 
between competing crews on different boats? Not very much. 

There is, finally, a feature of ocean racing that can make 
a shambles of the whole thing, The poorest judgment can. 


under capricious circumstances, pay the handsomest rewards. 
Crew A, out of an egregious ignorance and showing execrable 
judgment, elects to go around Block Island north to south 
while the seasoned and shrewd Crew B makes the proper 
choice under the circumstances, and goes south to north. 
The wind abruptly and inexplicably changes, and has the 
effect of whisking A in and stopping B dead in its tracks. 
Ridiculous, isn't it? What satisfaction am I entitled to feel 
if I beat the fabulous Rod Stephens? I should feel an ass; 
for given the presumptions, there could be no clearer demon- 
stration of my inexpertness. That a playful providence should 
have elected to reward folly and punish wisdom does not 
mitigate my offense against sound judgment. 

It will be objected that, after all, the facts are that 10 per- 
cent of the boats win 75 percent of the hardware. True. But 
what does the statistic prove? Merely that fast boats with 
digestible handicaps, or slow boats with exorbitant handi- 
caps do best. Not more. One cannot set up, in the way that 
one can in class-boat races, or in tennis or golf matches, a 
ladder which will reflect with reasonable accuracy the rela- 
tive proficiency of ocean racers. 

Wherein, then, does the contest lie, in the sport of ocean 
racing? It is, I think, a contest with oneself. It lies in the 
demands made upon the crew by the boat, the weather, and 
the crew itself. There is of course the formal race, within the 
general framework of which that contest takes place. And 
there is the delusive tendency to feel that one's position in 
the fleet exactly reflects the quality of one's response to the 
challenge. But that is false. 

The challenge for all of us, in every boat, takes pkce in 
context of our total experience with, and our total preoccupa- 
tion with, sailing. It is absurd to expect that the casual sailor 
whose mind, week in, week out, is very much on other things 
shall have acquired the expertise of an Alan Villiers; and it is 
barbarous to suggest that that sailor, given the failure to 
meet the standards of a Villiers, is either presumptuous or 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [225 

impudent in participating in ocean racing. The challenge, 
I say then, lies in setting the sails as quickly as you know 
how, in trimming them as well as you know how; in handling 
the helm as well as you can; in getting as good a fix as you 
can; in devising the soundest and subtlest strategy given 
your own horizons; in keeping your temper, and your dis- 
position; and above all things, in keeping your perspective, 
and bearing in mind, always, the essential meaning of the 

All these things are, by definition, since the standards are 
subjective and not objective, as "well" done by amateurs as 
by professionals. In one sense, better done. The amateur, 
though his failures will be more abysmal than the profes- 
sional's, can also soar to greater heights. He is more often 
afraid, and therefore more often triumphant; more often in 
awe, hence more often respectful; more often surprised, 
hence more often grateful. When did the crew of Finisterre 
last experience the exultation that comes to the amateur crew 
on expertly jibing their spinnaker? 

I should be glad to describe the sensation to Mr. Carlton 


WHEN we ducked inside the harbor at Newport, two 
hours after sundown, the sudden stillness was preternatural. 
The spinnaker was down for the first time in three full days. 
The wind stopped blowing on our necks and the water, 
finally, was calm, for now we were shielded from the south- 
westerly that had lifted us out of Chesapeake Bay and car- 
ried us on the long second leg of the race, right to Newport 
That sudden stillness, the sudden relief, caused us, out of 
some sense of harmony, to quiet our own voices so that It was 
almost in whispers that we exchanged the necessary signals 
as we drew Into an empty slip at Christie's wharf. We tied 
up, doing our work in silence, dimly aware that the boat that 


had crossed the line a half mile behind us was groping its 
way to the slip opposite. 

A searchlight pierced the darkness and focused for an 
instant on our distinctive red bowsprit. "Oh my God," we 
heard a voice, in muted anguish, "The Panic!" The man with 
the flighlight, aboard the famous Golliwog, deduced how 
poorly his boat must have done behind The Panic! We felt 
very sorry for Golliwog. In reversed circumstances, we too 
would have felt ashamed. 

I and The Panic are arrant beginners in the sport of ocean 
racing. We are bumptiously amateur, and appear to have a 
way of provoking the unreasoned and impulsive resentment 
of sailors whose view of ocean racing tends to be a little 
different from my own. That resentment is wholly spon- 
taneous and, I like to feel, evanescent. I distinguish it sharply 
from the highly mobilized and systematic displeasure that I 
have here and there engendered in proud professionals. 

I have even been scolded in public by one sailor who 
announced that he would take his stand by precisely these 
professionals, some of whose tendencies I have here and 
there criticized. We experts, my critic said, have made it 
possible for you sub-amateurs to sail in ocean races without 
breaking your necks. Your corresponding obligations are 
1) to stop being amateurs just as soon as you possibly can; 
and 2) to show a little reverence for the experts, to whom 
you are so solidly indebted. 

I gather that my failure to proceed with satisfactory speed 
toward goal Number One above, and my inconsistent adher- 
ence to rule-of-the-road Number Two are, perversely, my 
qualifications (I have no others) to write at all on the sub- 
ject of ocean racing. 

Let me begin by saying that I am a conservative, and that 
the worship of excellence is a part of the conservative creed. 
Indeed, I abhor the indifference to excellence which I sug- 
gest is, nowadays, the hottest pursuit of our society. Nor do I 
underestimate the importance of what the social scientists 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [2,2,7 

call "expertise" the body of expert operative knowledge in 
any field. It is hard for me to believe, therefore, that in de- 
claiming so impassionately about the great contributions the 
experts have made toward ocean racing, anyone could under- 
stand himself to be arguing with me. How can anyone ques- 
tion the usefulness of such lives or, particularly in the very 
act of putting that knowledge to practical use, speak lightly 
or condescendingly of their attainments? 

I would not count it a life wasted that was consumed in 
the development of the definitive snatch block, heaven 
knows. I have merely, here and there, suggested that the 
principal difficulties of the beginning ocean sailor are 1 ) the 
mystifying lack of expertise in much of what goes into ocean 
sailing; and 2) the tendency, in some experts, to desiccate 
the entire experience by stripping it of spontaneity, of won- 
der; the tendency to demand the land of reverence for the 
experts that belongs to the sea. 

I have not made a study of the tribulations of novitiate 
sailors, and I pass off my own without any suggestion that 
I am writing about universal experience. If what I have to 
say turns out to be not at all useful to others, then I apologize 
for wasting their time. If it turns out that I have something 
useful to say, then I am pleased beyond words finally to have 
contrived a way to requite, in some small measure, my large 
debt to the sport of sailing. 

One reads a great deal in primers on boat buying about 
the practices of unscrupulous men. I have no doubt that such 
men exist. It is natural that they should, for confidence men 
notoriously gather around the commodities that dreams are 
made of money, power, women, boats. But I am singularly 
fortunate in never having been handled by one. From the 
outset, I have dealt with honest men, genuinely concerned 
to satisfy the desires of the owners of The Panic while, to be 
sure, making an honest living out of it. It is against such a 
framework that I discuss my first point above and, by lurid 


autobiographic detail, make my point about the perplexing 
inexpertness of experts. 

The Panic is a looker. I would not know what to say to 
anyone who was not instantly captivated by her appearance. 
We fell in love with her at first sight, and decided, on second 
sight, to buy her. How much did the broker (remember: a 
wholly honest one ) think we would have to spend to put her 
in racing shape? He thought and thought about it, and made 
careful notes. Five hundred dollars, he decided. 

I am not sure how much we have spent on The Panic ( and 
the experts would not even now designate her as being a 
racer) . The original mistake, most of them would say (now! ) 
was made on that Dutch drawing board, but it is no exag- 
geration to say that we have bought her, so to speak, two or 
three times. (I intend to will my boat bills to the museum at 
Mystic, so that future beginners can have a detailed idea of 
just where the mines are buried. ) 

Let us take one item. The Panic proved to have a terrible 
weather helm. When it began to blow, and particularly when 
we had to shorten headsails, we used to measure the force 
needed to keep the boat on course in terms of horsepower. 
Racing to Bermuda in 1956 we would wear out a helmsman 
every half hour, even with the aid of a becket made out of 
several strands of thick shock cord. We determined the next 
winter to do something about it. 

Now even beginners can figure out that a weather helm 
results when the center of effort is too far aft. Let me try to 
put that more intelligibly. A weather helm will result when 
a greater area of sail is exposed to the wind aft of the fulcrum 
point of the boat than forward of it. The obvious way to cor- 
rect the situation is to move the whole rig forward. But in 
large boats that is not feasible. So I took the problem to the 
experts. What should I do? What would you recommend? 
(One minute of silence, while you think ) 

Well, the experts reasoned, let us increase the sail area for- 
ward, to compensate the pressure aft. How? No room on top, 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [229 

because it's a masthead rig already. What, then? A bowsprit. 

A bowsprit! A bowsprit! the cry rang out from consultant 
to consultant, from boatyard to rigger, gaining volume as it 
traveled through the echo chambers of expertise. We were 
so intoxicated by the proposal that we ordered it executed 
without delay: on with the bowsprit. 

Well, all it involved was constructing a 39-inch steel sec- 
tion with a couple of sheaves for the anchor chain and a bob- 
stay, welding it on, yanking out the woodwork and pulpit, 
machining and installing two new stanchions and chocks; 
and there we were. But, of course, the headstay had to move 
forward. So in came the riggers and moved it forward. The 
headstay having moved forward, the forestay could not linger 
behind so off it went another stainless steel cable and in- 
stallation. Then, what do you know, the spinnaker pole too 
short now. A new pole. 

But you couldn't have a bigger pole without a bigger 
spinnaker so you just increase the size of your spinnaker, a 
matter of a couple of weeks* work by a couple of expert sail- 
makers. Then you find your headsails are hanging down, as 
what dope couldn't have figured out, now that, the headstay 
being strung out, the angle is changed. So you recut them. 
Having done so, you find that the deck plates are just plain 
no use where they are they have to be changed, to reiect 
the new angle of descent of the headsails. 

And then the horrible moment when, realizing we had 
increased the area of the fore-triangle, we called in the 
Measurer. He surveyed the revised boat with the sadistic 
satisfaction of the headmaster of Dotheboys Hall confronting 
a refractory student: severe punishment was in order. Up 
soared our rating. 

That's all there was to it. 

And it didn't work worth a damn. Before, the helm had 
only been bad in fresh air. Now when the wind freshened 
you had to reduce headsail or luff the main, or both, There 
went the advantage of the bowsprit In light airs, the increase 


in comfort was barely noticeable; the increase in speed not 
noticeable at all. The experts never thought of that. 

The problem continued to be serious, so last winter we 
started at the other end. At the suggestion of the estimable 
Mr. Bill Muzzio, of Muzzio Brothers Boatyard, we bade 
good-by to the sails and journeyed below, to the keel. If we 
could not change the center of effort, we could change the 
center of lateral resistance. We proceeded to extend the keel 
aft, adding about twenty square feet. The operation involved 
virtually rebuilding the after half of the boat new rudder 
pipe, new tiller, new lazarette. The result was miraculous. We 
now have no helm at all. The boat is beautifully balanced. 
Question: Could we not have been spared our first experi- 

Take our radio direction finder. Our first one was Dutch. 
It sort of worked, but the signal was not really satisfactory. 
We asked a top firm of marine electricians to recommend and 
install the very best thing available. In came a Bendix loop 
and a war surplus airplane Bendix radio direction finder. 
That was three years ago. Every three months, that is to say, 
every time I have desperately needed it and it refused either 
to work at all, or else to work well enough to yield an intel- 
ligible signal, I write a letter of complaint to the electricians. 
In response to my complaint, they bear down on The Panic 
and "fix" it. They will then demonstrate the quality of its 
performance as we sit in our slip in Stamford; and sure 
enough, WOR turns out to be located in New York City. 

Three days later, surrounded by fog off Block Island, Point 
Judith turns out to be in Pennsylvania, and Montauk has 
begun to sail off toward Iceland at about forty miles per hour. 
I report my complaint. We repeat our performance. The same 
thing happens again. I repeat my complaint. This has gone 
on for three years. An exception? 

There's our radio telephone. Never fear, I reassured my 
apprehensive wife on purchasing the boat, the Radio Cor- 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [231 

poration of America will never permit us to be truly sepa- 
rated. Ten percent of the time, I get through to the marine 
operator. The other times, she doesn't hear me not a word. 
Td much prefer it if the set didn't work at all, because then 
one could buy new tubes, or something. In come the electri- 
cians. We have tested the telephone, they will report to me. 

"Got a check from the New York marine operator on four 
different stations. The perfect power effect is ten. Your set 
got three tens and a nine." 

"Yes, I know," I say. "Only it doesn't work for me, when 
I, not you, want to use it. What should I do? I now have 
radio aerials that are the pride of the electronic industry. 
If I am on a port tack, I can switch to a port aerial, freeing 
the antenna of any leeward encumbrance. The aerial is 
exquisite. The telephone has been checked fifteen times. 
Only it doesn't work. Why? I don't know. I never said I was 
an expert." 

In a piece I wrote for Motor Boating, I made the claim 
that unlike the fusspot sailers, I was prepared to repose my 
faith in professional riggers, to whom I would say, simply, 
"Please give me first-rate rigging" and I would not insult 
them by following them around, making a strand-by-strand 
examination of their handiwork. 

I am beginning to modify my views. Not because, as Norris 
Hoyt would have it, my respect for the expert increases; but 
rather because of my faith in hvm having diminished, I begin 
to realize that though I am not inclined that way, I shall 
probably have to become, before I am done, not only an 
electronics engineer but a rigger. 

Here is what I mean: On the first race to Bermuda, com- 
ing back, the backstay parted where the stainless steel cable 
fitted into an insulator which had to do with the aerial (im 
those days, before the alterations, the aerial didn't work on 
the backstay, whereas now it doesn't work on the shrouds). 
"What do you know!" the rigger exploded when I held the 


sundered pieces in my hand, "that aerial insulator is tested 
for five million pounds' (or something) pressure/' 

"Yes," I said, "only it didn't work." 

In the most recent Bermuda race we were sailing along 
and . . . bang ... the headstay, no less, was gone, parted at 
the turnbuckle. We had been sailing alongside Finisterre 
(a brief encounter) . On the way back, in the airplane, where 
I had the honor to meet him, Carleton Mitchell asked what 
had gone wrong, that the entire crew should have rushed 
forward so excitedly to the bow. I told him. 

"Oh, yes," he said. "I had the same trouble once. Now I 
don't use a turnbuckle at the headstay at all. I do all the 
adjusting on the backstay turnbuckle. You do, of course, have 
a double toggle on your headstay, don't you?" 

Never in all my life was I so anxious to please, but I just 
couldn't pretend to know and get away with it 

"What is a toggle?" I asked sheepishly. He explained (I 
assume the reader knows). Well, it turns out, we didnt have 
a double toggle, we had only a single toggle. Why? The 
people who rigged The Panic rigged one of the contestants 
for II. S. representation in the America's Cup Race (come to 
think of it, the boat didn't qualify). If a double toggle is 
obviously the thing to do, why wasn't it done? Are there two 
points of view about double toggles? Why aren't they venti- 
lated? Why don't some people come forward as single toggle 
men, prepared to fight to the finish double toggle men? But 
no. There appears to be no expertise in the making on the 

Oh yes: on the way back from Bermuda, the topping lift 
parted. And the main halyard parted. It seems there was a 
strain where the Tru-lok fitting ran up against the sheave 
at the top of the mast. Why hadn't the experts caught that? 
Because they are inexpert? Or because there is inexpertise? 

The point I labor so clumsily to make is that I suspect it 
is the latter, and that the beginner, buJEeted as he especially 
is by the marauding experts, has the sharpest insight into 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [233 

the fact. The rigger who splices a wire around a thimble with 
loving care has a regard for, and takes a pride in, excellence. 
And if he does it "correctly" he is an expert. But if the splice 
does not hold the wire around the thimble as it is designed 
to do, then there is insufficient expertise in the matter. 

It happens all about us. Masts break for no very clear 
reason. Boats sink at the slip, and all the king's horses and 
all the king's men cannot figure out why. This telephone will 
work every time, and that one won't. This paint works beau- 
tifully on this hull, and that hull, with the identical paint, 
will look, in a week or two, as though it had impetigo. 

But we are dealing, are we not, with laws of nature which, 
at the level we speak of, can be assumed to be constant? 
Hume, dismissing miracles, said he would sooner believe that 
human testimony had erred than that the laws of nature had 
been suspended. Is it miraculous then that John's radio works 
and William's does not? I should consider it the most rational 
explanation yet offered if my electrician would inform me 
that my radio telephone does not work because of the 
absence of miraculous conditions. 

But he does no such thing, nor do the riggers, or painters, 
or engine makers ( engines! What a temptation to write about 
my engine!), or sailmakers, or meteorologists, or ropemakers. 
The fact of the matter is they are half craftsmen (and excel- 
lent craftsmen, at that) and half medicine men who, due to 
the absence of experience in the design, manufacture and 
maintenance of boats, do not know what they are up against 
and hence traffick in sheer charlatanry. 

My advice to the beginner? Read all those books and 
listen to all that advice with high skepticism. There is much 
there to learn, but there are many, many uncharted seas, and 
the man who tells you with that robust certitude that is 
characteristic of the expert's rhetoric (viz. Mr. Cakhan's 
advertisements) that the way from A to C lies via B is very 
likely to be quite, utterly wrong. There are compensations in 
the situation. Think how much the amateur can accomplish 


for himself! If anyone is of a mind to conquer, there is a 
great deal around to subdue. And if anyone has the stomach 
for high adventure, I wish he would bear my radio telephone 
in mind. 

The second point I have made, and I do not want to be 
tiresome about it. Hilaire Belloc was driven to a rage at the 
very thought of racing a cruising boat. It was never very hard 
to drive Belloc into a rage, but in this case he surely had a 
point, and if he had participated in some of today^s races, 
he would have felt fully justified. Cruising boats, offshore 
boats of varying design, are made for cruising; and to race 
them, Belloc seems to feel, is like seeing how fast you can 
play a symphony: the very point is lost. 

I disagree, obviously, for I race; and will race again and 
again, in all likelihood. But I do believe that the dangers 
that most horrified Belloc are pre-eminently there, that one 
has only to go down to a yacht club, survey the ministrations 
tendered to a 12-foot racing dinghy, extrapolate, and you 
have an idea of the way you may find yourself spending your 
life if you race a 40-footer to win. 

I can understand an amateur's mothering a dinghy, or a 
Comet, or a Staror even an International Twelve-Meter 
with the land of loving care necessary to eliminate those 
marginal seconds and half seconds, but I do not understand 
why such a thing is done when disparate boats race each 
other under the colossal, though conscientious, hoax that is 
The (handicap) Rule. I do not understand, because the con- 
tentmultiplications, square roots, and long divisions not- 
withstandingis essentially a phony. 

I have seen the obsession with high fidelity displace the 
enjoyment of music. I have known bright people who devel- 
oped into crashing bores as they transmuted ocean racing into 
a neo-Spartan and never-ending ordeal which, even when it 
gives pleasure, gives a pleasure that is totally unrelated to 
the generic source of pleasure in sailing: which is the sea 
and the wind. 

The Threat to the Amateur Sailor [235 

I have a notion that the inertia o our age, the perfect 
expression of which is the Western paralysis in international 
affairs during the past half century, has had the effect of 
extravasating the natural physical and moral energies of 
some people into athletic channels. I can understand the lure 
of the total workout, expressed in sailing by the devotion of 
twenty hours a week, thirty weeks a year, toward the perfec- 
tion of one's yacht and the forwarding of one's competitive 
position. Only I say such as they threaten the sport as surely 
as some of the new critics threaten the art of poetry. And 
I say to the beginner, don't let them tyrannize over you, or 
you may never recapture your romance. 

I am solidly for amateurism in ocean sailing, I have lost, 
as I indicated above, faith in the very existence of the ex- 
pertise before which, even did I know it to exist, I should 
not be disposed to humble myself in quite the manner that 
some deem appropriate. I am quite serious in saying that 
I idolize Carleton Mitchell because he is a professional who, 
one can tell by reading what he writes, derives an amateur's 
pleasure out of his trade. (Has anyone noticed that there is 
no rasp in Mitchell's writing? That is the sign.) He would 
never, I think, stultify the sport by discouraging its discovery 
by beginners, as so many people are likely to do. 

Of the eight or ten people who regularly race The Panic, 
nowadays, it is fair to say that by contrast with the gold- 
platers, our boat is crewed by rank beginners. And before the 
comment gets made that this is all too visible to any boat 
a half mile away from The Panic, let me say, brother: Think 
what you like. Let us go, amiably, our amiable ways. Just 
rescue me if I fall overboard, as I would you, and get out 
of my way when I'm on a starboard tack. I make no other 

Do I have advice for a beginner? Yes. If you intend to race, 
buy a racing boat. They are just as comfortable nowadays. 
But remember, they are much, much more expensive. If you 
buy a boat that is afflicted with an unviable rating, and then 


race it, you will unless you exercise a solipsisf s self-discipline 
fret, and be unhappy. 

Do you know about the Law of Rusher's Gap? Well, it 
especially applies to ocean racers. Rusher's Gap is the gap 
beyond the gap that one anticipates. Apply it generously in 
your calculation of costs. Assume your upkeep will be five 
times what you first anticipated. Especially the first year or 
two. Assume no one has yet invented a radio telephone. Take 
four extra turnbuckles everywhere you go and a hundred 
cable clamps, to say nothing, of course, of a complete hard- 
ware store. 

Have your drink (singular) before dinner. The first couple 
of days out, take a sedative when your turn comes to go off 
watch, and take a stimulant when you get up. That will cata- 
pult you, rather than drag you slowly by the hair, into the 
new and very different rhythm of life aboard an ocean racer. 
Wear an eyeshade when trying to sleep during the day. Do 
not assume it is possible to stay dry when you go forward 
in a heavy sea. (The only way to accomplish that, a friend of 
mine has observed, having tried every other way, is to strip 
naked and get completely vulcanized at the home port) 
Race your boat hard. And pay no attention to the results. 


I RECENTLY spent the better part of a day with a 
college student who had much on his mind to tell me. I in 
turn was much interested in what he had to say. But after 
an hour or so I gave up. It wasn't that his thinking was 
diffuse, or his sentences badly organized. It was simply that 
you couldn't understand the words. When they reached your 
ear they sounded as faint as though they had been forced 
through the wall of a soundproofed room, and as garbled as 
though they had been fed through one of those scrambling 
devices of the Signal Corps. "Somi iggi prufes tometugo seem 

"What was that?" 

(Trying hard) "So mi IGgi prufes tometugo seem THAaf- 

"Sorry, I didn't quite get it." 

SEE HIM THAT AFTERNOON." And on with the story. By which 
time, let us face it, the narrative has become a little consti- 
pated; and soon I gave up. My responses became feigned, 
and I was reduced to harmonizing the expression on my face 
with the inflection of his rhetoric. It had become not a 
dialogue but a soliloquy, and the conversation dribbled off. 

I remarked on the event kter to a friend who works regu- 
larly with boys and girls of college age. 'Don't you under- 
stand?" he said. "Nobody at college today opens his month 
to speak. They all mumble. For one thing, they think it's 
chic. For another, they haven't got very much to say. That's 



the real reason why they are called the Silent Generation. 
Because nobody has the slightest idea what they are saying 
when they do speak, so they assume they are saying nothing." 

It isn't a purely contemporary problem. Two generations 
ago Professor William Strunk, Jr. of Cornell was advising 
his student E. B. White to speak clearly and to speak even 
more clearly if you did not know what you were saying. "He 
felt it was worse to be irresolute/* White reminisces in his 
introduction to The Elements of Style, "than to be wrong. . . . 
Why compound ignorance with inaudibility?" 

I remember when I was growing up, sitting around the 
dining room table with my brothers and sisters making those 
animal sounds which are only understood by children of the 
same age, who communicate primarily through onomato- 
poeia. One day my father announced after what must have 
been a singularly trying dinner that exactly four years had 
gone by since he had been able to understand a single word 
uttered by any one of his ten children, and that the indicated 
solution was to send us all to England where they respect 
the English language and teach you to OPEN YOUR MOUTHS. 
We put this down as one of Father's periodic aberrations 
until six weeks later the entire younger half of the family 
found itself on an ocean liner headed for English boarding 

Mumbling was a lifelong complaint of my father, and he 
demanded of his children, but never got, unconditional sur- 
render. He once wrote to the headmistress of the Ethel 
Walker School: "I have intended for some time to write or 
speak to you about Maureen's speech. She does not speak 
distinctly and has a tendency, in beginning a sentence, to 
utter any- number of words almost simultaneously. Anything 
the school can do to improve this condition [the school did 
not do very much Ed.] would be greatly appreciated by us. 
I have always had a feeling [here Father was really laying it 
on, for the benefit of his children, all of whom got copies] 

What Did You Say? [239 

that there was some physical obstruction that caused this, 
but doctors say there is not." 

Frustrated by the advent of World War II and the neces- 
sity of recalling his children from England before they had 
learned to OPEN THEIR MOUTHS, my father hired an elocution 
teacher and scheduled two hours of classes every afternoon. 
She greeted her surly students at the beginning of the initial 
class with the announcement that her elocution was so pre- 
cise, and her breathing technique so highly developed, that 
anyone sitting in the top row of the balcony at Carnegie Hall 
could easily hear her softest whisper uttered onstage. Like a 
trained chorus we replied sitting a few feet away "What 
did you say? Speak up!"wE DID NOT GET ON. But after a while, 
I guess we started to OPEN OUR MOUTHS. (There are those 
who say we have never since shut them. ) 

No doubt about it, it is a widespread malady like a bad 
hand, only worse, because we cannot carry around with us a 
little machine that will do for our voices what a typewriter 
does for our penmanship. The malady is one part laziness, 
one part a perverted shyness. Perverted because its inarticu- 
lated premise is that it is less obtrusive socially to speak your 
thoughts so as to require the person whom you are addressing 
to ask you twice or three times what it was you said. A palp- 
able irrationality. If you have to ask someone three times 
what he said and when you finally decipher it you learn he 
has just announced that the quality of mercy is not strained, 
or that he is suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous 
fortune, you have a glow of pleasure from the reward of a 
hardy investigation. So let the Shakespeares among us mum- 
ble, if they must But if at the end of the mine shaft you are 
merely made privy to the intelligence that the English pro- 
fessor set up a meeting for that afternoon, you are entitled to 
resent that so humdrum a detail got buried in an elocutionary 
gobbledygook which required a pick and shovel to unearth. 

I do not know what can be done about it, and don't in- 
tend to look for deep philosophical reasons why the problem 


is especially acute now 1 nevertheless suggest the prob- 
lem be elevated to the status of a National Concern. Mean- 
while, the kindergartens should revive the little round we 
used to sing or, rather, mumble: 

Whether you softly speak 
[crescendo] Or whether you loudly call. 
Distinctly! Distinctly speak 
Or do not speak at all. 


WE ARE about to leave Japan, as ignorant about what 
is going on here as we were when we arrived three days ago. 
But that is no excuse for not writing about Japan, as any 
opinionated publicist will tell you, carbon copy to Internal 
Revenue. It happened that all five of our contacts here were, 
for one reason or another, hors de combat, so that we were 
left attempting to communicate with two guides, the most 
amiable of men, but whose combined knowledge of English 
was insufficient to cope with a question concerning the 
whereabouts of the "convenient place" (genteel Japanese for 
"lavatory") (genteel English for "toilet") let alone cope 
with questions concerning the shogunate of Premier Ikeda. 
My single conversation while in Japan with a non-Japanese 
was conducted over the telephone, with the Spanish Am- 
bassador, to whom I relayed the greetings of his son in New 
York. I managed to extravasate into a wholly nonpolitical 
exchange of pleasantries the question: "How does it go with 
the government in Japan?" "It goes well," he said; "it is a 
very stable government." If the Spanish Ambassador says a 
government is stable, I say the viewing is worth passing 
along. . . . 

Otherwise, it was mostly shrines. Goodness, but the 
Buddha is a beshrined man. In Kyoto alone, which was the 
capital of Japan for a thousand years, up until 80 or 90 years 
ago (by the way, everything in Japan happened "80 or 90 
years ago." Especially fires and industry. Upon introducing 
almost any building, the guide will say: "The original burned 


down 80 or 90 years ago, but has been rebuilt ") in 

Kyoto, there are 200 to 300 shrines, great and small, mostly 
a little decrepit, but every one of them with the character- 
istically upturned ends, the gentle, almost imperceptible up- 
ward Hit in the railings and the eaves which transmute an 
essentially stodgy structure into a fitting monument to a 
people whose lives are fastidiously symmetrical, but who 
are softened by just a touch of blitheness. 

If my guide is correct (or if I understood him correctly ), 
religion in Japan is a depressed area. Especially since the 
war's end, he said, there has been a loss of interest in religion 
(and one notes, a corresponding national passion for get- 
ting and spending). How many of his classmates at Kyoto 
University are practicing Buddhists? "About ten." "Only 10 
percent?" I expressed surprise. "No ten peoples, in totality/' 
he said. What about Christianity? Roughly two percent of 
Japan is Christian, at least formally Christian. Is Christianity 
growing? I asked. Not really. Lots of people go to Christian 
schools. But, he said, they go there primarily "to train their 
conversations." (Our guide had not gone to a Christian 
school. ) What percentage of his classmates are Communists? 
About 20 percent. Were they upset by Russia's detonation 
of the big bomb? Yes, very upset, and they do not upset 
easily, he said: for instance, they were not much upset when 
the "right-wing student" (in Japan, "right wing" is the ultra- 
montanist monarchist, the high nationalist, the ferocious re- 
ligionist) "put a knife in the chief of the socialists" a year 
ago. Would he say the influence of the Communists among 
the young was increasing or diminishing? Diminishing, he 
said because the standard of living is rising. I let the implied 
correlation go by. That morning, a commentator had sum- 
marized the foreign policy section of a report filed the day 
before by Mr. Saburo Eda, the Secretary-General of the 
Central Committee of the powerful Socialist Party: "The 
language used in Eda's report prompts one to ask whether a 
Japanese socialist would feel any qualms in joining the 22nd 

Letter from Japan [243 

Congress of the Communist Party, USSR, and applauding 
Nikita Khrushchev enthusiastically." 

Do you mind if I ask you a question? the law student 
smiled cagily. Is it true that in America no one is allowed "to 
talk about Communism"? "No," I said, "that is not true. That 
is largely Communist propaganda. But it is true that in 
America no one is allowed to say anything is Communist 
propaganda." He did not understand me, but then neither 
would many Americans have understood. 

The strain of intercommunication was taking its toll. It 
requires a dozen exchanges to effect the transmission of a 
single piece of intelligence with an "English-speaking" guide. 
Sample, as we looked at the imposing gate outside the Im- 
perial Palace in Kyoto, through which no mortal man may 
pass, only the Emperor himself the palace where the em- 
perors, who lived there a thousand years until 80 or 90 years 
ago, still go to be crowned: 

"Does the Emperor travel a great deal?" "Yes, he lived 
here for one thousand years." "No, does he now travel very 
much?" "He lives now in Tokyo." "Yes, I know but [slipping 
inevitably into pidgin English] does he go all over Japan 
very much now?" "He is here when he is coronated many 
years ago." "But [reducing the scope of the inquiry] does- 
he come now here still now often?" "Yes, when he is 
coronated. And [pointing to one of the great buildings in the 
imperial compound] that is where he goes when he wishes to 

So it goes, It is hard on the visitor. It is not merely this 
guide. Yesterday it was the Tokyo guide, and my question, 
issuing from the shock of having been billed 75 cents ( U, S. ) 
for a glass of orange juice that morning, was "From where do 
you import your oranges?" "From Tokyo Bay," he said. 
Dont pursue it, my wife nudged me ferociously. As ever, 
I yielded more, I rekpsed into a sullen silence, forever 
abandoning the conversational initiative. "In Osaka," he said, 


as we drove through what is surely the most endless of all the 
cities in the world, "the people here are famous for sticking 
to money." "What on earth can he mean?" I whispered to 
my wife. "He means, ass, that in Osaka they are notoriously 
stingy/' I settled down, using my wife as the interpreter's in- 
terpreter, and we drove on to Nara, where the emperors 
lived one thousand and 80 or 90 years ago, and we left the 
car to walk through the famous, tranquil park, with the 
pastel pine trees, and the thousand stone columns, waist 
high, where gifts are offered, or were offeredmost of them 
are empty now for the propitiation of the gods who let them 
down during the great recent war. Throughout the park 
tame deer wandered, nuzzling up to the tourists for food. 
Why do the deer have no horns? I asked Mr. Maezakawa. 
"They are taken away," he explained, <c because sometimes 
the deer stick the children." I need not have asked the ques- 
tion at all because just then we came upon a large official 
sign, thoughtfully explaining everything in Japanese and 
English. The sign read: Deer are now in puberty season. Be 
aware. Bucks sometimes hurt people with their horn. 

The day we left, the government of Japan announced its 
decision not to accept the kind offer of Mr. Sargent Shriver 
to endow Japan with 100 Peace Corpsmen as English teach- 
ers. To accept them, the foreign office disclosed, would be for 
Japan to appear as an underdeveloped nation, which she 
most definitely is not, and has not been for 80 or 90 years. 


IT WAS the very last coach and the only empty seat on 
the entire train, so there was no turning back. The problem 
was to breathe. Outside, the temperature was below freezing. 
Inside the railroad car the temperature must have been 
about 85 degrees. I took off my overcoat, and a few minutes 
later my jacket, and noticed that the car was flecked with 
the white shirts of the passengers, I soon found my hand 
moving to loosen my tie. From one end of the car to the 
other, as we rattled through Westchester County, we 
sweated; but we did not moan. 

I watched the train conductor appear at the head of the 
car. "Tickets, all tickets, please!" In a more virile age, I 
thought, the passengers would seize the conductor and strap 
him down on a seat over the radiator to share the fate of his 
patrons. He shuffled down the aisle, picking up tickets, 
punching commutation cards. No one addressed a word to 
him. He approached my seat, and I drew a deep breath of 
resolution. "Conductor/' I began with a considerable edge 
to my voice. . . . Instantly the doleful eyes of my seatmate 
turned tiredly from his newspaper to fix me with a resentful 
stare: what question could be so important as to justify my 
sibilant intrusion into his stupor? I was shaken by those eyes. 
I am incapable of making a discreet fuss, so I mumbled a 
question about what time were we due in Stamford (I didn't 
even ask whether it would be before or after dehydration 
could be expected to set in), got my reply, and went back 
to my newspaper and to wiping my brow. 


The conductor had nonchalantly walked down the gaunt- 
let of eighty sweating American freemen, and not one of 
them had asked him to explain why the passengers in that 
car had been consigned to suffer. There is nothing to be done 
when the temperature outdoors is 85 degrees, and indoors 
the air conditioner has broken down; obviously when that 
happens there is nothing to do, except perhaps curse the 
day that one was born. But when the temperature outdoors 
is below freezing, it takes a positive act of will on somebody's 
part to set the temperature indoors at 85. Somewhere a valve 
was turned too far, a furnace overstocked, a thermostat mal- 
adjusted: something that could easily be remedied by turn- 
ing off the heat and allowing the great outdoors to come 
indoors. All this is so obvious. What is not obvious is what 
has happened to the American people. 

It isn't just the commuters, whom we have come to 
visualize as a supine breed who have got on to the trick of 
suspending their sensory faculties twice a day while they 
submit to the creeping dissolution of the railroad industry. 
It isn't just they who have given up trying to rectify irrational 
vexations. It is the American people everywhere. 

A few weeks ago at a large movie theatre I turned to my 
wife and said, "The picture is out of focus." "Be quiet," she 
answered. I obeyed. But a few minutes later I raised the 
point again, with mounting impatience. "It will be all right 
in a minute," she said apprehensively. (She would rather 
lose her eyesight than be around when I make one of my in- 
frequent scenes.) I waited. It was just out of focus not 
glaringly out, but out. My vision is 20-20, and I assume that 
is the vision, adjusted, of most people in the movie house. So, 
after hectoring my wife throughout the first reel, I finally 
prevailed upon her to admit that it was off, and very annoy- 
ing. We then settled down, coming to rest on the presump- 
tion that: a) someone connected with the management of 
the theatre must soon notice the blur and make the correc- 
tion; or b) that someone seated near the rear of the house 

Why Dont We Complain? [247 

would make the complaint in behalf of those of us up front; 
or c) that any minute nowthe entire house would explode 
into catcalls and foot stamping, calling dramatic attention to 
the irksome distortion. 

What happened was nothing. The movie ended, as it had 
begun, just out of focus, and as we trooped out, we stretched 
our faces in a variety of contortions to accustom the eye to 
the shock of normal focus. 

I think it is safe to say that everybody suffered on that 
occasion. And I think it is safe to assume that everyone was 
expecting someone else to take the initiative in going back 
to speak to the manager. And it is probably true even that if 
we had supposed the movie would run right through the 
blurred image, someone surely would have summoned up 
the purposive indignation to get up out of his seat and file 
his complaint. 

But notice that no one did. And the reason no one did is 
because we are all increasingly anxious in America to be 
unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, 
hesitant about claiming our rights; we are afraid that our 
cause is unjust, or that if it is not unjust, that it is ambiguous; 
or if not even that, that it is too trivial to justify the horrors 
of a confrontation with Authority; we will sit in an oven 
or endure a racking headache before undertaking a head-on, 
Tni-here-to-tell-you complaint. That tendency to passive 
compliance, to a heedless endurance, is something to keep 
one's eyes on in sharp focus. 

I myself can occasionally summon the courage to com- 
plain, but I cannot, as I have intimated, complain softly. My 
own instinct is so strong to let the thing ride, to forget about 
it to expect that someone will take the matter up, when 
the grievance is collective, in my behalf that it is only when 
the provocation is at a very special key, whose vibrations 
touch simultaneously a complexus of nerves, allergies, and 
passions, that I catch fire and find the reserves of courage 
and assertiveness to speak up. When that happens, I get 


quite carried away. My blood gets hot, my brow wet, I be- 
come unbearably and unconscionably sarcastic and bellicose; 
I am girded for a total showdown. 

Why should that be? Why could not I ( or anyone else ) on 
that railroad coach have said simply to the conductor, "Sir" 
I take that back: that sounds sarcastic "Conductor, would 
you be good enough to turn down the heat? I am extremely 
hot. In fact, I tend to get hot every time the temperature 
reaches 85 degr " Strike that last sentence. Just end it with 
the simple statement that you are extremely hot, and let the 
conductor infer the cause. 

Every New Year's Eve I resolve to do something about 
the Milquetoast in me and vow to speak up, calmly, for my 
rights, and for the betterment of our society, on every appro- 
priate occasion. Entering last New Year's Eve I was forti- 
fied in my resolve because that morning at breakfast I had 
had to ask the waitress three times for a glass of milk. She 
finally brought it after I had finished my eggs, which is 
when I don't want it any more. I did not have the manliness 
to order her to take the milk back, but settled instead for a 
cowardly sulk, and ostentatiously refused to drink the milk 
though I later paid for it rather than state plainly to the 
hostess, as I should have, why I had not drunk it, and would 
not pay for it. 

So by the time the New Year ushered out the Old, riding 
in on my morning's indignation and stimulated by the gas- 
tric juices of resolution that flow so faithfully on New Year's 
Eve, I rendered my vow. Henceforward I would conquer my 
shyness, my despicable disposition to supineness. I would 
speak out like a man against the unnecessary annoyances of 
our time. 

Forty-eight hours later, I was standing in line at the ski 
repair store in Pico Peak, Vermont. All I needed, to get on 
with my skiing, was the loan, for one minute, of a small 
screwdriver, to tighten a loose binding. Behind the counter 
in the workshop were two men. One was industriously en- 

Why Don't We Complain? [249 

gaged in servicing the complicated requirements of a young 
lady at the head of the line, and obviously he would be tied 
up for quite a while. The other "]iggs" his workmate called 
him was a middle-aged man, who sat in a chair puffing a 
pipe, exchanging small talk with his working partner. My 
pulse began its telltale acceleration. The minutes ticked on. I 
stared at the idle shopkeeper, hoping to shame him into ac- 
tion, but he was impervious to my telepathic reproof and 
continued his small talk with his friend, brazenly insensitive 
to the nervous demands of six good men who were raring 
to ski. 

Suddenly my New Year's Eve resolution struck me. It was 
now or never. I broke from my place in line and marched to 
the counter. I was going to control myself. I dug my nails 
into my palms. My effort was only partially successful: 

"If you are not too busy/' I said icily, "would you mind 
handing me a screwdriver?" 

Work stopped and everyone turned his eyes on me, and 
I experienced that mortification I always feel when I am 
the center of centripetal shafts of curiosity, resentment, 

But the worst was yet to come. "I am sorry, sir," said Jiggs 
deferentially, moving the pipe from his mouth. "I am not 
supposed to move. I have just had a heart attack." That was 
the signal for a great whirring noise that descended from 
heaven. We looked, stricken, out the window, and it ap- 
peared as though a cyclone had suddenly focused on the 
snowy courtyard between the shop and the ski lift Suddenly 
a gigantic army helicopter materialized, and hovered down 
to a landing. Two men jumped out of the plane carrying a 
stretcher, tore into the ski shop, and lifted the shopkeeper 
onto the stretcher. Jiggs bade his companion good-by, was 
whisked out the door, into the plane, up to the heavens, down 
we learned to a near-by army hospital I looked up man- 
fullyinto a score of man-eating eyes. I put the experience 
down as a reversal. 


As I write this, on an airplane, I have run out of paper and 
need to reach into my briefcase under my legs for more. I 
cannot do this until my empty lunch tray is removed from 
my lap. I arrested the stewardess as she passed empty-handed 
down the aisle on the way to the kitchen to fetch the lunch 
trays for the passengers up forward who haven't been served 
yet. "Would you please take my tray?" "J ust a Content, sir!" 
she said, and marched on sternly. Shall I tell her that since 
she is headed for the kitchen anyway, it could not delay the 
feeding of the other passengers by more than two seconds 
necessary to stash away my empty tray? Or remind her that 
not fifteen minutes ago she spoke unctuously into the loud- 
speaker the words undoubtedly devised by the airline's 
highly paid public relations counselor: "If there is anything 
I or Miss French can do for you to make your trip more en- 
joyable, please let us" I have run out of paper. 

I think the observable reluctance of the majority of Amer- 
icans to assert themselves in minor matters is related to our 
increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology and 
centralized political and economic power. For generations, 
Americans who were too hot, or too cold, got up and did 
something about it. Now we call the plumber, or the elec- 
trician, or the furnace man. The habit of looking after our 
own needs obviously had something to do with the assertive- 
ness that characterized the American family familiar to read- 
ers of American literature. With the technification of life 
goes our direct responsibility for our material environment, 
and we are conditioned to adopt a position of helplessness 
not only as regards the broken air conditioner, but as regards 
the overheated train. It takes an expert to fix the former, but 
not the latter; yet these distinctions, as we withdraw into 
helplessness, tend to fade away. 

Our notorious political apathy is a related phenomenon. 
Every year, whether the Republican or the Democratic 
Party is in office, more and more power drains away from the 
individual to feed vast reservoirs in far-off places; and we 

Why Don't We Complain? [251 

have less and less say about the shape of events which shape 
our future. From this alienation of personal power comes the 
sense of resignation with which we accept the political dis- 
pensations of a powerful government whose hold upon us 
continues to increase. 

An editor of a national weekly news magazine told me a 
few years ago that as few as a dozen letters of protest against 
an editorial stance of his magazine was enough to convene 
a plenipotentiary meeting of the board of editors to review 
policy. "So few people complain, or make their voices heard/ 7 
he explained to me, "that we assume a dozen letters repre- 
sent the inarticulated views of thousands of readers." In the 
past ten years, he said, the volume of mail has noticeably 
decreased, even though the circulation of his magazine has 

When our voices are finally mute, when we have finally 
suppressed the natural instinct to complain, whether the vex- 
ation is trivial or grave, we shall have become automatons, 
incapable of feeling. When Premier Khrushchev first came 
to this country late in 1959 he was primed, we are informed, 
to experience the bitter resentment of the American people 
against his tyranny, against his persecutions, against the 
movement which is responsible for the great number of 
American deaths in Korea, for billions in taxes every year, 
and for life everlasting on the brink of disaster; but Khrush- 
chev was pleasantly surprised, and reported back to the 
Russian people that he had been met with overwhelming 
cordiality (read: apathy), except, to be sure, for "a few 
fascists who followed me around with their wretched post- 
ers, and should be horsewhipped." 

I may be crazy, but I say there would have been lots more 
posters in a society where train temperatures in the dead 
of winter are not allowed to climb to 85 degrees without 

(Continued f-" ' 
neth Tynan and Robert Hutch- 
ins. And far, far away from 
politics, there are observations 
about American habits, at home 
and abroad, and about the threat 
to the amateur in sailing. 

"He writes/' says Norman 
Mailer, a heated political adver- 
sary of Buckley, "in a lovely and 
lucid style/' 

One of America's outstanding 
young writers and personalities 
brings new understanding to our 
tormented times. 

Photo credit: M. Koner 

Jacket by Ben Feder, Inc. 

Publishers Since 18S8 
200 Madison Avenue 

New York 16, New York 


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